- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

WATFORD, England (AP) - Sergio Aguero completed his most prolific season at Manchester City by scoring twice in a 5-0 win at Watford that secured Pep Guardiola’s team third place in the Premier League and direct progress to next season’s Champions League group stage.

The Argentina striker has endured one of his most difficult seasons at City - he was even dropped at times with Guardiola wanting more from him - but he finished it with 33 goals in all competitions.

Aguero scored the second and third goals in a rout at Vicarage Road on Sunday, with Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus also finding the net to wrap up the victory that City needed to guarantee third spot behind Chelsea and Tottenham.

City finished 15 points adrift of eventual champion Chelsea.

“I know the Premier League better now, I regret that we could not fight until the end,” said Guardiola, who didn’t win a trophy in his first season at City but has achieved the minimum requirement of returning the team to the Champions League.

“Now we must reduce the gap to the elite in Europe and in the Premier League. We must play better.”

By staying above fourth-placed Liverpool on the final day of the season, City will not have to go through qualifying like the team had to last season.

Any hint of final-day jeopardy surrounding the fixture evaporated when Watford’s lineup was announced, with outgoing manager Walter Mazzarri fielding a makeshift back three and two goalkeepers on the bench.

City took full advantage.

Kompany, left completely free at a corner, headed home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross for 1-0 in the fifth minute, and De Bruyne was also the provider for Aguero to slot home his first goal in the 23rd.

Aguero, City’s main striker since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011, brought up 20 Premier League goals for the season in the 36th when David Silva fed Leroy Sane, who crossed for Aguero to score.

Fernandinho waltzed through a succession of misplaced tackles to make it 4-0 in the 41st and there were farcical scenes early in the second half when Watford’s fans began to call for Mazzarri to be sent to the stands as he received a lecture from referee Jon Moss.

Gabriel Jesus scored the last goal, and is seventh since arriving at City in January, when he stole in ahead of Tom Cleverley to hook Aguero’s cross over goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

“We showed in many moments how much quality is in this team, what the standards should be going forward and defending,” Kompany said.

“I really believe the way you finish the season is the way you want to start the next, so bring on next season.”

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