FROM fall guy to prize guy in less than 24 hours…but with a surname like that, resurrections are par for the course.
Gabriel Jesus helped himself to a hat-trick in Man City’s win over WatfordCredit: AP
The Brazilian sealed his treble from the penalty spotCredit: Getty
Hassane Kamara got Watford back into the game when he pulled a goal backCredit: Getty
Rodri got himself on the scoresheet with a thunderous strikeCredit: AP
Yet by the late afternoon, Jesus was the name on the lips of everyone for the right reasons, after a four-star super show to send Manchester City back to the top.
Three Prem goals up to yesterday, more than doubled in one afternoon. Not bad for a guy who now spends his time as a right winger, rather than centre forward.
With just one more season left on his contract, there is, of course, the danger Jesus could still decide to cut and run for free when that runs down. Arsenal, for one, are big fans.
And summer wouldn’t be summer without reports that Jesus would be the one to make way when City brought in their latest marquee name.
So rattling in a bagful against Watford probably won’t change things this time, either. Yet all that is for another time.
For now, all City are concerned about is opening up that four point lead on Liverpool, and turning the heat up a little ahead of this afternoon’s Merseyside derby.
It certainly means they cannot afford to slip up at Anfield…and there was precious little danger of that here, against a side City have now beaten 15 times in a row.
It took just three minutes and 38 seconds to get their noses in front this time, courtesy of Jesus’ first and any thoughts it would be a contest ended then.
Joao Cancelo’s cross from the right flew all the way to Oleks Zinchenko beyond the far post, and when he drilled it into the box, Jesus stuck out a foot to stab it in.
Ben Foster beat out a Cancelo drive and pushed away another from the City goalscorer, and thoughts flickered towards that 8-0 hiding on the Hornets’ last visit, in 2019.
And when Jesus doubled up midway through the half, it seemed we would need more than two hands for the final tally.
Again that one came from a cross, yet while the first was simply driven into enemy territory, this was a laser-guided delivery from Kevin De Bruyne and again Jesus could not miss.
Game over, so we thought. Although a Watford counter just before City’s second – ended by a superb backtracking dart and slide tackle by Zinchenko – should have ensured no nodding off.
No such thing, though, because just before the half hour the lead was halved, with a goal that had Pep Guardiola furiously chucking a water bottle to the floor in disgust.
Hassane Kamara began the move on halfway, and when no-one followed his run and he took a return pass of Emmanuel Dennis before scoring in the corner, the City chief was raging.
But you know what they say about tweaking the tiger’s tail. Well Watford discovered the danger with the most devastating of paybacks.
Ironically City restored the two-goal cushion with most of their fans baying for them to put the ball out of play…and half the team as well.
De Bruyne was holding his ankle in agony 20 yards from goal, courtesy of a hefty Moussa Sissoko challenge, when Jesus kept the move alive on the right wing.
Gabriel Jesus has taken his tally to 11 goals for the seasonCredit: Getty
He ignored Raheem Sterling’s point to put it out, instead chipped inside to Rodri – and the Spaniard’s shot would have removed Foster’s fingers if he’d touched it en route to the net.
This time it really was all over. This time there would be no nodding off from the reigning champions. And this time Watford really did fall apart.
Less than 15 seconds after the break Jesus had gone haring into the box, and after Kamara nearly sent him tumbling, Foster’s outstretched left boot did.
The Brazilian picked himself up to send Foster the wrong way from the spot, and sealed his hat-trick from a combined total of around 20 yards.
For some teams facing such a hectic six weeks or so as City, that would have been enough to put the cue in the rack and stroll through the rest of the game.
Then again, they’ve shown us plenty of times already that they aren’t just any team, and Jesus was swiftly in the thick of it again with a fourth.
He swapped passes with De Bruyne and swept in to become the first Prem player to hit four in a game since Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min against Southampton two years ago.
With 37 minutes left, the biggest surprise was that he and City didn’t add any more, as they finally took their foot off the gas a little.
Over to you Jurgen….
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