(Reuters) - For Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Argentine striker Sergio Aguero is the gift that keeps giving.
Aguero became the most prolific overseas goalscorer in the Premier League era when he netted a lethal hat-trick in a 6-1 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday.
He had begun the game one behind Frenchman Thierry Henry who scored 175 times for Arsenal but ended it with 177 goals, joint fourth on the all-time list with Frank Lampard.
It was Aguero's 12th Premier League hat-trick, taking him past Alan Shearer with whom he had shared that record.
Aguero's goals have helped City claim four Premier League titles since he arrived in 2011, two under Guardiola.
While Aguero was modest about his achievements, Guardiola was generous in his praise.
"He has scored a lot of goals, he is happy to be here, he is a legend, he has passed another legend in Thierry Henry," the Spaniard said. "Everyone has a talent and this is his. He has a gift when the ball's at his feet, he's amazing.
"We congratulated him in the dressing room. He's been doing this over a long, long time."
Only three players -- Shearer (260), Wayne Rooney (208) and Andrew Cole (187) have scored more Premier League goals than Aguero but his goals per game ratio surpasses them.
In his 255 Premier League games he has scored at a rate of 0.69 goals per game. Shearer's ratio is 0.59, Rooney's 0.42 and Cole's is 0.45. Henry was almost as efficient at 0.68.
The silver-haired Aguero thumped home in the first half to equal the record and then slotted in again in the 57th minute to go past Henry and put City 5-0 ahead at Villa Park.
The 31-year-old, who joined City in 2011, completed his hat-trick in the 81st minute to match Lampard.
"I'm so happy for the record," Aguero told Sky Sports. "I want to keep scoring more goals but it all depends on my team mates passing to me! It's too far to Shearer but I will try."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)