Pep Guardiola: Sergio Aguero is an authentic legend of Manchester City

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Kevin de Bruyne's display did not go unnoticed, too, as his three assists went a long way towards saving City's blushes.

Tottenham has collected seven points from a possible nine, following victory over Manchester United and a draw at Liverpool, to climb into the third Champions League qualification place.

With the Premier League all but sewn up, however, the biggest motivation for the Etihad Stadium club will surely be in the Champions League, and it is here where Pep Guardiola believes it is pivotal for his team to be successful if De Bruyne is to break Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's stranglehold over the Ballon d'Or.

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"No doubt", he replied. "We had that day a training session at 4 p.m.in the afternoon, at the same time five or six of the players I could have taken, had a game here", Guardiola told a news conference. But to be admired, to be loved, to get credit for what we have done, you have to lift the titles. "I think he is one of the best in the world and in the future he will be stronger".

"Of course. You have to be there in the latter stages".

City has only progressed beyond the last 16 once in six previous UEFA Champions League campaigns - De Bruyne's excellent victor securing a semi-final spot at Paris Saint-Germain's expense in 2016 - and memories of last season's thrilling away goals exit at the hands of Monaco remain fresh for Guardiola. It would take a spectacular collapse for any other team to steal it from them now.

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Guardiola said he had no alternative due to injuries and he did not want to call up a player from the under-23s - as Neville advocated while on duty as a Sky Sports pundit - because they had played the night before. He scores all different types of goals - tap-ins, cheeky chips and screamers and we've seen that today. We did not quite handle the bad moments. "That is the deal".

The 29-year-old now has 21 league goals this season and became only the fourth player to score more than 20 times in four successive Premier League campaigns.

"Sergio can have not a lot of presence in the game like, for example, in the first half [against Leicester]", Guardiola added. He has played as a lone striker, but loves to drop into the space in front of the backline, and is adept at making late runs and finding the back of the net easily.

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"We knew the quality of his passing but it is not just the quality of the pass, it is reading whether you can pass the ball here, here, here or there. He fought, he played really well, and he scored goals".

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