NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — Maybe the replacement for departing Manchester City great Sergio Aguero is already in the squad.
Ferran Torres demonstrated his scoring instincts by netting a hat trick as newly crowned champion Manchester City won a record 12th straight away game in the English Premier League, 4-3 at Newcastle on Friday.
That’s 13 goals in his debut season at City for the Spain international, who is naturally a winger but has filled in as a striker at times whenever Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have been absent.
Guardiola spoke excitedly after the game about the potential of the 21-year-old Torres, saying he could “smell” where the goal was.
“He is so young and clinical,” Guardiola said. “He is a guy brought as a winger but maybe we have to think as a striker.”
Torres, signed from Valencia as one of Spanish soccer’s top talents, is only three goals behind City top scorer Ilkay Gundogan for this campaign.
Both were part of another heavily rotated lineup named by Guardiola that also included third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson, an on-loan 35-year-old who was making his first start in the top flight in 10 years.
With the title wrapped up on Tuesday with three matches to spare, City looks like it will have some fun in the final week of the campaign and Torres certainly enjoyed himself at St. James’ Park.
“It has been an incredible week — we qualified for the Champions League, won the Premier League and I scored a hat trick. Very happy,” Torres said.
He scored twice in three minutes from the 64th as City fought back from 3-2 behind.
City moved 13 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, which handed its neighbor the title by losing to Leicester in midweek.
Newcastle, which is safe from relegation, went ahead through Emil Krafth’s header at a corner in the 25th before Joao Cancelo equalized off a deflected shot that spun into the far corner from the edge of the area in the 39th.
Torres produced an impressive flicked volley in mid-air three minutes later as City moved ahead 2-1, only for Joelinton to get fouled in the area by Nathan Ake and dust himself down to convert the penalty past Carson in first-half stoppage time.
Newcastle was awarded another penalty when Joe Willock was tripped by Kyle Walker and the fouled player again took the spot kick. This time, Carson made the save, but the ball rebounded out and Willock converted into an empty net in the 62nd.
Walker teed up Torres to equalize, and the winger was on hand to volley the winning goal high into the net when Cancelo’s shot came back off the post.
“We made mistakes because we are champions,” Guardiola said. “We were distracted a little bit, but this is normal.
“Today, I knew that could happen.”
City’s class of 2020-21 had been tied on 11 away straight victories with Chelsea (2008) and the Man City team from 2017, also managed by Guardiola. It is a record in the top four tiers of English soccer.