Man City 3-1 Porto: Sergio Aguero reaches 40 goals but can he be considered a Champions League great?

By Chris BevanBBC Sport at Etihad Stadium
Where it all began: Aguero (r) celebrates with Luis Garcia after scoring his first Champions League goal, which came for Atletico Madrid against PSV in September 2008
How it started: Aguero (r) celebrates with Luis Garcia after scoring his first Champions League goal, which came for Atletico Madrid against PSV in September 2008 when he was 20

Another match for Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, another goalscoring milestone to celebrate.

When the 32-year-old Argentina striker found the net with a penalty in Wednesday's 3-1 comeback win against Porto, it was for his 40th Champions League goal, with all but five of that haul coming for his current club.

Aguero joins an elite list of marksmen, becoming only the 14th player to reach that landmark since the competition was rebadged in 1992.

Aguero scores City's equaliser from the penalty spot against Porto on Wednesday night
How it's going: Aguero scores City's equaliser from the penalty spot against Porto on Wednesday night

He has now hit a total of 255 goals in 372 games for City, extending his record as the club's record scorer.

But, while his phenomenal haul cannot be questioned, his wider impact on the Champions League is somewhat less convincing when you compare it to the company he is keeping at the top of its scoring charts - and not just because all but two of the players above him have won it at least once.

Top Champions League goalscorers - 40 goals or more
Player/rankGamesGoalsGames taken to 40 (rank)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo17013082 (11)
2. Lionel Messi14411661 (=2)
3. Raul1427175 (9)
4. Robert Lewandowski916861 (=2)
5. Karim Benzema1216567 (4)
6. Ruud van Nistelrooy735645 (1)
7. Thierry Henry1125073 (8)
=8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic12048101 (14)
=8. Andriy Shevchenko1004872 (=6)
=10. Thomas Muller1164692 (13)
=10. Filippo Inzaghi814669 (5)
12. Didier Drogba924479 (10)
13. Alessandro del Piero894283 (12)
14. Sergio Aguero724072 (=6)

A great goal ratio - but why do they dry up?

Sergio Aguero celebrates his first Champions League for Manchester City
Aguero joined City for £38m in July 2011 and was soon celebrating his first Champions League goal for the club - a 94th-minute winner over Villareal in October of that year. His tally of 35 goals for City in the competition does not include the hat-trick he scored in the qualifying round against Steaua Bucharest in 2016

Aguero's raw numbers are not in doubt, starting with his consistency - since his debut in the Champions League for Atletico Madrid in 2008 he has taken part in the competition in 12 out of a possible 13 seasons, and scored at least once in each of them with an overall record that is better than a goal every two games.

Along with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski, Aguero is one of only five players to score in every season between 2011-12 and 2019-20 - he and Messi are the only two to have already got off the mark in this campaign.

In terms of time taken, Aguero is the joint-sixth fastest player to reach 40 goals when you count his games played.

His efficiency can hardly be faulted either. Aguero rises from 14th to ninth in the rankings when you consider his goals-per-minute ratio, with a goal every 127 minutes.

This is hardly a surprise when you consider that domestically he leads the way in this regard above Alan Shearer and everyone else on the all-time Premier League list, with a goal every 108 minutes.

Best minutes-per-goal ratio in Champions League history
Player/rankGoalsMins/goal
=1. Mario Gomez26102
=1. Lionel Messi116102
3. Harry Kane20104
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy56109
=5. Robert Lewandowski68114
=5. Cristiano Ronaldo130114
7. Filippo Inzaghi46119
8. Marco Simone20123
9. Sergio Aguero40127
10. Karim Benzema65130
Players with 20 or more Champions League goals

It is only when you scrutinise WHEN Aguero's European goals have come that his record begins to falter.

Of his 40 goals, 30 have come in group games and another eight in the last 16. He has managed only one in the quarter-finals or later - against Tottenham in 2019 - a statistic surely linked to City's struggles to progress past that point.

Aguero completes his hat-trick with a 91st-minute winner in a 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich in 2014
Aguero's best Champions League moment so far? He scored an injury-time winner to complete his hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in 2014

It is not solely the case that Aguero's frequent injury problems have denied him the opportunity to add to his tally in the latter stages - since 2016, City have played nine matches across four quarter-finals and one semi-final, and he has missed only two of them.

But he has played in far fewer of those games than most of the other names to have made it to the 40-goal mark.

And, for whatever reason, when he has got there he has simply been less effective than usual at a time when his team have arguably needed him the most, with his goals-to-minutes ratio dropping to one every 543 minutes during matches in the last eight onwards.

The top CL scorers - their record in QFs, SFs and finals
Player/rankGames playedGoalsMins playedMins per goal
1. Cristiano Ronaldo49424,508107
2. Lionel Messi41203,552178
=3. Filippo Inzaghi23131,702131
=3. Andriy Shevchenko26132,253173
=3. Raul31132,751212
6. Robert Lewandowski22121,878157
=7. Didier Drogba25112,173198
=7. Thomas Muller36112,698245
=9. Alessandro del Piero1881,543193
=9. Karim Benzema2881,854232
=11. Ruud van Nistelrooy64522131
=11. Thierry Henry2141,492373
=11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic1741,423356
14. Sergio Aguero71543543

Is this Aguero's last chance?

Man City's starting XI in their first Champions League game in the club's history, a 1-1 draw against Napoli in September 2011. Back row L-R Hart, Kompany, Toure, Barry, Lescott, Dzeko. Front row: Silva, Zabaleta, Nasri, Aguero, Kolarov
Aguero is the last survivor from the team that faced Napoli in City's first Champions League game in September 2011. He has played in 58 of City's 78 games in the competition, scoring 35 goals. This is the 10th-straight season that they have qualified, and their best run to date came in 2015-16 when they reached the semi-finals

City's failure to win the Champions League or even reach a final is not Aguero's fault, of course, but it means that, like his club, he currently has a glaring omission on his otherwise illustrious CV.

At the moment, it feels like he is missing a defining moment in Europe to match his famous strike against QPR that brought him the first of his four domestic league titles with City in 2012.

Match of the Day at 50: Aguero recalls his goal v QPR

His greatest contribution for City in the Champions League so far is probably his group-stage hat-trick in a dramatic comeback win against Bayern Munich in 2014, rather than any of his nine goals in the last-16 onwards.

That is still enough to make him the joint 21st-highest scorer of knock-out goals, but they have either come in disappointing defeats against Barcelona, Monaco (two goals) and Spurs, or in what must go down as less than momentous victories over Dynamo Kiev, Basel and Schalke (three goals).

It feels like a slightly underwhelming showreel for a player of his ability and, while there is still time for Aguero to put that right and create a more meaningful European legacy with an iconic night of his own, maybe it is running out.

He is out of contract next summer and this season could be his last chance to cement his status as a true Champions League legend.

One way of doing that would be by finally getting his hands on the famous trophy, but can he help City make it to the final in Istanbul by maintaining his scoring rate this time?

Sergio Aguero hits the deck during his side's Champions League semi-final tie with Real Madrid in 2016
Of the 13 players with more CL goals than Aguero, 11 have won the tournament at least once. The other two are Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ibrahimovic played in the competition for seven different clubs, making one semi-final with Barcelona and reaching the quarter-finals on eight separate occasions with Ajax, Juventus and AC Milan. Van Nistelrooy, meanwhile, was the tournament's top scorer in three different seasons but only managed one semi-final and one quarter-final, both with Manchester United
The Miami party god who entertains Aguero, Neymar and Ronaldinho

Top Stories

Explore the BBC