Aguero: We pretended it wasn't Barca
Sergio Aguero claims the key to Manchester City's famous victory over Barcelona was pretending they were playing a different team.
City finally turned the tables on the Catalan giants after defeats in their five previous Champions League meetings with a memorable 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Some of those past losses were emphatic, and after a 4-0 loss at the Nou Camp a fortnight ago when City played reasonably well, it seemed they remained some way short of the Barca benchmark.
But this time City played to their potential, responding to Lionel Messi's early goal with Ilkay Gundogan strikes either side of a brilliant Kevin De Bruyne free-kick to beat the five-times European champions.
Striker Aguero said: "They're a difficult team, obviously. If you give them the time and the space to think, they will beat you.
"You always have to respect Barca and any team would respect that, but we had to pretend that it wasn't Barca and try to play how we know, and win, which was the most important thing."
With a passionate crowd feeding off City's stirring performance, and given the quality of the opposition, it felt like a landmark victory for the club.
City have faced a long and difficult journey to establish themselves among the elite but this win, perhaps more than anything on last season's run to the semi-finals, gave the impression they truly belonged there.
Aguero said: "I've experienced many different important nights, and this was another one that not only me but the whole team enjoyed.
"We also could feel the support from the fans and that was important for our confidence. It was a nice game for the memories."
Aguero did not get on the scoresheet himself but was highly influential in leading the attack. The Argentinian was left out of the starting line-up in the defeat in Barcelona two weeks ago in a tactical move that backfired, sparking speculation about his future.
Manager Pep Guardiola has repeatedly dismissed suggestions he does not see Aguero in his future plans and the forward himself denies he was angry about the situation.
The 28-year-old said: "I'm never angry. I respect every manager's decision. He said it was a tactical thing and I obviously respect that."