Man City 3-1 Porto: Sergio Aguero reaches 40 goals but can he be considered a Champions League great?

Man City 3-1 Porto: Sergio Aguero reaches 40 goals but can he be considered a Champions League great?

How it started: Aguero (r) celebrates with Luis Garcia after scoring his first Champions League goal, which came for Atletico Madrid against PSV in September 2008 when he was 20

Another match for Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, another goalscoring milestone to celebrate.

When the 32-year-old Argentina striker found the net with a penalty in Wednesday’s 3-1 comeback win against Porto, it was for his 40th Champions League goal, with all but five of that haul coming for his current club.

Aguero joins an elite list of marksmen, becoming only the 14th player to reach that landmark since the competition was rebadged in 1992.

How it’s going: Aguero scores City’s equaliser from the penalty spot against Porto on Wednesday night

He has now hit a total of 255 goals in 372 games for City, extending his record as the club’s record scorer.

But, while his phenomenal haul cannot be questioned, his wider impact on the Champions League is somewhat less convincing when you compare it to the company he is keeping at the top of its scoring charts – all but two of the players above him have won it at least once.

Player/rank Games Goals Games taken to 40 (rank)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo 170 130 82 (11)
2. Lionel Messi 144 116 61 (=2)
3. Raul 142 71 75 (9)
4. Robert Lewandowski 91 68 61 (=2)
5. Karim Benzema 121 65 67 (4)
6. Ruud van Nistelrooy 73 56 45 (1)
7. Thierry Henry 112 50 73 (8)
=8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic 120 48 101 (14)
=8. Andriy Shevchenko 100 48 72 (=6)
=10. Thomas Muller 116 46 92 (13)
=10. Filippo Inzaghi 81 46 69 (5)
12. Didier Drogba 92 44 79 (10)
13. Alessandro del Piero 89 42 83 (12)
14. Sergio Aguero 72 40 72 (=6)

A great goal ratio – but why do they dry up?

Aguero joined City for £38m in July 2011 and was soon celebrating his first Champions League goal for the club – a 94th-minute winner over Villareal in October of that year. His tally of 35 goals for City in the competition does not include the hat-trick he scored in the qualifying round against Steaua Bucharest in 2016

Aguero’s raw numbers are not in doubt, starting with his consistency – since his debut in the Champions League for Atletico Madrid in 2008 he has taken part in the competition in 12 out of a possible 13 seasons, and scored at least once in each of them with an overall record that is better than a goal every two games.

Along with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski, Aguero is one of only five players to score in every season between 2011-12 and 2019-20 – he and Messi are the only two to have already got off the mark in this campaign.

In terms of time taken, Aguero is the joint-sixth fastest player to reach 40 goals when you count his games played.

His efficiency can hardly be faulted either. Aguero rises from 14th to ninth in the rankings when you consider his goals-per-minute ratio, with a goal every 127 minutes.

This is hardly a surprise when you consider that domestically he leads the way in this regard above Alan Shearer and everyone else on the all-time Premier League list, with a goal every 108 minutes.

Player/rank Goals Mins/goal
=1. Mario Gomez 26 102
=1. Lionel Messi 116 102
3. Harry Kane 20 104
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy 56 109
=5. Robert Lewandowski 68 114
=5. Cristiano Ronaldo 130 114
7. Filippo Inzaghi 46 119
8. Marco Simone 20 123
9. Sergio Aguero 40 127
10. Karim Benzema 65 130
Players with 20 or more Champions League goals

It is only when you scrutinise WHEN Aguero’s European goals have come that his record begins to falter.

Of his 40 goals, 30 have come in group games and another eight in the last 16. He has managed only one in the quarter-finals or later – against Tottenham in 2019 – a statistic surely linked to City’s struggles to progress past that point.

Aguero’s best Champions League moment so far? He scored an injury-time winner to complete his hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in 2014

It is not solely the case that Aguero’s frequent injury problems have denied him the opportunity to add to his tally in the latter stages – since 2016, City have played nine matches across four quarter-finals and one semi-final, and he has missed only two of them.

But he has played in far fewer of those games than most of the other names to have made it to the 40-goal mark.

And, for whatever reason, when he has got there he has simply been less effective than usual at a time when his team have arguably needed him the most, with his goals-to-minutes ratio dropping to one every 543 minutes during matches in the last eight onwards.

Player/rank Games played Goals Mins played Mins per goal
1. Cristiano Ronaldo 49 42 4,508 107
2. Lionel Messi 41 20 3,552 178
=3. Filippo Inzaghi 23 13 1,702 131
=3. Andriy Shevchenko 26 13 2,253 173
=3. Raul 31 13 2,751 212
6. Robert Lewandowski 22 12 1,878 157
=7. Didier Drogba 25 11 2,173 198
=7. Thomas Muller 36 11 2,698 245
=9. Alessandro del Piero 18 8 1,543 193
=9. Karim Benzema 28 8 1,854 232
=11. Ruud van Nistelrooy 6 4 522 131
=11. Thierry Henry 21 4 1,492 373
=11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic 17 4 1,423 356
14. Sergio Aguero 7 1 543 543

Is this Aguero’s last chance?

Aguero is the last survivor from the team that faced Napoli in City’s first Champions League game in September 2011. He has played in 58 of City’s 78 games in the competition, scoring 35 goals. This is the 10th-straight season that they have qualified, and their best run to date came in 2015-16 when they reached the semi-finals

City’s failure to win the Champions League or even reach a final is not Aguero’s fault, of course, but it means that, like his club, he currently has a glaring omission on his otherwise illustrious CV.

At the moment, it feels like he is missing a defining moment in Europe to match his famous strike against QPR that brought him the first of his four domestic league titles with City in 2012.

Match of the Day at 50: Aguero recalls his goal v QPR

His greatest contribution for City in the Champions League so far is probably his group-stage hat-trick in a dramatic comeback win against Bayern Munich in 2014, rather than any of his nine goals in the last-16 onwards.

That is still enough to make him the joint 21st-highest scorer of knock-out goals, but they have either come in disappointing defeats against Barcelona, Monaco (two goals) and Spurs, or in what must go down as less than momentous victories over Dynamo Kiev, Basel and Schalke (three goals).

It feels like a slightly underwhelming showreel for a player of his ability and, while there is still time for Aguero to put that right and create a more meaningful European legacy with an iconic night of his own, maybe it is running out.

He is out of contract next summer and this season could be his last chance to cement his status as a true Champions League legend.

One way of doing that would be by finally getting his hands on the famous trophy, but can he help City make it to the final in Istanbul by maintaining his scoring rate this time?

Of the 13 players with more CL goals than Aguero, 11 have won the tournament at least once. The other two are Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ibrahimovic played in the competition for seven different clubs, making one semi-final with Barcelona and reaching the quarter-finals on eight separate occasions with Ajax, Juventus and AC Milan. Van Nistelrooy, meanwhile, was the tournament’s top scorer in three different seasons but only managed one semi-final and one quarter-final, both with Manchester United

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