City hits Chelsea for six with another Aguero hat trick

Manchester City's hat trick hero Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring against Chelsea during their English Premier League match at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Sunday. — Reuters

MANCHESTER — Manchester City's on-fire striker Sergio Aguero struck his second hat trick in a week as the champion ruthlessly destroyed woeful Chelsea in a 6-0 win at The Etihad Sunday to return to the top of the Premier League.

While Liverpool's 3-0 win over Bournemouth Saturday cut short talk of title run-in nerves on Merseyside this City victory, achieved with some glorious football against a top six opponent, was an emphatic statement.

In the past week City has beaten Arsenal at home and Everton away before taking Maurizio Sarri's side to pieces with four goals in the opening 25 minutes.

Rampant City has now scored 33 goals in its last five home games in all competitions and has a chance of lifting its first silverware of the season when it faces Chelsea again at Wembley in the League Cup final on Feb. 24.

City and Liverpool are both on 65 points with City having the better goal difference although it has played one more game than its rival. Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, which beat Leicester City 3-1 earlier on Sunday, is five points behind.

Aguero, who scored a hat trick seven days ago against Arsenal, has equaled Alan Shearer's record of 11 Premier League hat tricks and is now joint top scorer in the league this season with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah.

Chelsea had no time to settle before Raheem Sterling fired City ahead in the fourth minute with a side-foot finish after a quick freekick from Kevin De Bruyne caught the visiting defense napping.

After Aguero had somehow missed an open goal from two meters, the Argentine promptly beat goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with a blistering strike from 25 meters, underlining the fact that he is far more than a penalty area poacher.

A poor header by Chelsea's Ross Barkley toward his own goal gifted Aguero with City's third, the Argentine firing home with a first-time shot on the turn, and then a low drive from Ilkay Gundogan made it 4-0 after 25 minutes.

Following the break, Aguero, who also became City's all-time top scorer in league games, headed against the bar before he completed his hat trick from the penalty spot after Sterling had been brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta.

Sterling completed the rout, turning in a low cross from Oleksandr Zinchenko in the 80th.

The defeat was Chelsea's worst since its 7-0 loss to Nottingham Forest in 1991 and will raise serious questions about the direction the team is going in under Italian Sarri as it slipped to sixth place on 50 points, a point off the top four.

Tottenham went ahead through Sanchez who scored his first goal for the London club by meeting Eriksen's whipped cross with a diving header in the 33rd minute, although Leicester's players complained he was in an offside position.

Leicester missed the chance to equalize on the hour mark when substitute Jamie Vardy's penalty — his first touch after coming on — was pushed away by Hugo Lloris after Jan Vertonghen was adjudged to have fouled James Maddison in the box.

Tottenham doubled its lead three minutes later as Eriksen collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a fierce shot past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Vardy made up for his earlier miss by tapping in from close range 14 minutes from the final whistle after a well worked move allowed Ricardo Pereira to drill in a cross from the right.

After a sustained period of Leicester pressure, Son settled nerves of the home supporters by slotting in Tottenham's third with a solo run from the halfway line. — Reuters