Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists Sergio Aguero will “die scoring goals” after his record-breaking hat-trick demolished Aston Villa.
The Argentina international’s treble in City’s 6-1 romp made him the Premier League’s record overseas scorer with 177 goals.
He moved ahead of Frenchman Thierry Henry and drew level with Frank Lampard in fourth spot in the all-time stakes.
Riyad Mahrez grabbed a first-half brace with Gabriel Jesus also netting after Aguero’s first to make it 4-0 at the interval.
City were relentless with Aguero – who now has 249 goals for the club in all competitions – wrapping up his treble in the second half to set a new Premier League record of 12 hat-tricks, passing Alan Shearer’s mark.
Guardiola said: “He will die scoring goals. He is one of the best, no doubt. The best is (Lionel) Messi but the rest? Sergio is absolutely one of them.
“All the players in the locker room congratulated him. To break this record of an incredible legend like Thierry Henry it means it’s not just for a short period, it’s many years.
“To be the foreign player with the most goals and hat-tricks speaks for itself.
“It’s an honour to be here the day he achieved that, hopefully he can score more.
“There are players through the incredible history of English football and he is one of them, he helps to make the Premier League and English football better.”
City moved above Leicester into second but are still 14 points behind leaders Liverpool in their quest for a third straight title – something Guardiola accepts looks unlikely
“Forget about it, we would have liked to fight against them but we could not, for many reasons,” added Guardiola.
“Everyone made their incredible contribution and now finally after a long time we are second in the table and close to qualifying for the Champions League next season.”
Mahrez scored twice in six minutes before Aguero made it 3-0 inside the first half-hour.
Jesus netted just before the break and Aguero completed City’s rout with another two in the second half.
Hapless Villa are now a point from safety after dropping into the bottom three following Watford’s win at Bournemouth.
They have lost six of their last nine league games and suffered their heaviest home defeat in almost four years.
New goalkeeper Pepe Reina watched on before he is due to complete his move from AC Milan in the next 48 hours.
Anwar El Ghazi’s injury-time penalty, after Ilkay Gundogan tripped Trezeguet, gave the hosts a consolation.
Boss Dean Smith said: “Whether we were paying them too much respect I don’t know. We’re a proud club with a proud history and standing there at 6-0 down wasn’t a pretty picture for myself.
“We contributed to our downfall, we made mistakes for goals and the third summed up the whole game.
“They made 20 passes without any contact and Aguero puts it in the top corner with no-one within three or four yards of him.
“Anyone who looked at Bournemouth against Watford and us playing Manchester City you didn’t have to be a betting expert to see we’d be in the bottom three – as much as we wanted to compete and get a result against them.
“Our season will not be defined playing Manchester City and Liverpool.”