• Raheem Sterling scored a superb hat-trick in the champions’ opening game
• But the two appeared to exchange words before the penalty was converted
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola singled out Sergio Aguero for an on-field talk in the wake of the champions’ impressive 5-0 victory at West Ham.
The striker and Raheem Sterling had appeared to exchange words before Aguero’s late spot-kick, with Sterling clearly keen to take the penalty, which if scored would have sealed him a hat-trick.
Even though City were 3-0 up and the game was all but won, Aguero stood firm and refused to hand over the ball to Sterling, who was seen on television with a wry smile on his face.
Aguero tucked away the penalty—but only at the second attempt. Lucas Fabianski saved the shot, only to see Aguero awarded a second chance after VAR ruled that there had been encroachment into the penalty area by West Ham’s Declan Rice.
Happily for Sterling he later scored his third goal of the game but Guardiola later appeared to single out Aguero as both sides left the field of play at full-time, in full view of the television cameras and remaining spectators. The Spanish boss didn’t appear angry with Aguero, but the conversation between the two continued as both headed towards the tunnel.
Guardiola has a history of sending clear messages by speaking to players on the pitch after games. Sterling himself got a talking to from Guardiola on the pitch at Wembley last season, even though he had just scored a hat-trick as City won the FA Cup final.
On this occasion, Sterling wouldn’t be denied his glory, and ensured he would be the star of the show deep into stoppage-time after rolling home a clinical third inside Fabianski’s near post.
Sterling could have teed up Aguero for a simple finish inside the penalty area, but kept a cool head after racing beyond West Ham’s backline and opted to round off City’s handsome victory in style himself - sealing his fourth career hat-trick. City’s comprehensive victory comes just a week after their triumph over Liverpool in the Community Shield.