Monday, September 26

Gabriel Jesus scores four as Manchester City romp to 5-1 win over Watford | premier league


Manchester City did precisely what they wished to do: beat Watford and give Liverpool 24 hours to contemplate a four-point deficit before their Merseyside derby against Everton on Sunday.

If the tussle between two supreme sides is the title race’s headline story, this game’s subplot featured a first Premier League hat-trick from Gabriel Jesus The 25-year-old went on to add a fourth which will pique the interest of potential suitors considering he has a year left on his terms and is rumored to be keen on leaving the Etihad.

Such matters are for the close season. The present is all about how City ticked off another match in their tilt at defending the championship for a second time under Pep Guardiola: they now have five left so remain firmly in pole position to do so.

Their win over Brighton in midweek may have been nervy until Riyad Mahrez broke the deadlock early in the second half but it was a completely different story against Watford as the irrepressible Jesus required only four minutes to settle them. João Cancelo swept in a cross that reached fellow full-back Oleksandr Zincehenko on the left. The Ukrainian drilled the ball along back into the area, and Jesus stuck a leg out to divert past Ben Foster. The early strike provoked a question: might Watford’s last visit in September 2019, when they were drubbed 8-0 here, find an unwanted echo?

City hunted for more. Kevin De Bruyne swung in a pair of corners that had
those in green in disarray but in a topsy-turvy phase the champions were next to be put under pressure. Cancelo over-dribbled near halfway and ceded the balland allowing Emmanuel Dennis to race towards Ederson before Zinchenko made a second telling intervention, executing a slide-tackle that expertly retrieved the ball: if it had not been perfectly judged a penalty might have been the tariff .

Cancelo’s next act was to try a Cruyff turn and be pilfered again – eleven
more to his manager’s discernible chagrin. Guardiola’s mood was to brighten, however. De Bruyne’s late season form has had the near-peerless midfielder at his very best. The latest illustration was a dipping parabola that begged for Jesus to head home, which he did with aplomb.

City could have been rampant from this juncture but fell asleep. Hassane Kamara initiated a move he would finish, taking a ball from Dennis, a hole punched in the home defense after Rúben Dias was dragged out wide on the left. When Kamara struck Guardiola did the same to the technical area turf: hitting grass with a fist.

City were ragged but emotions next took an upswing for those of a sky blue persuasion. Kevin Friend deserves credit for not blowing when De Bruyne went down injured because it allowed Jesus to find Rodri – near to where the Belgian lay – and after a neat chest-down the Spaniard fired in a sweet volley.

Gabriel Jesus heads a delightful cross from Kevin De Bruyne past Ben Foster in the Watford goal to give Manchester City a 2-0 lead. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

If Guardiola gave a pep talk at half-time it worked instantly as the contest’s star turn claimed and scored a penalty four minutes after the break. Jesus ran into the area, Kamara failed to track him, and a Foster boot felled the Brazilian. Up he stepped to secure a first treble in the competition, having performed the feat against Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.

Moments later it became a quadruple via a classic free-flowing City move: Sterling twisted in a central area and found Jack Grealish who fed Jesus who in turn sent De Bruyne away down the right before smashing home the return.

Manchester City welcome Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, before turning their focus to the title again when they travel to Leeds. Liverpool dare not drop any points when taking on their Merseyside rivals on Sunday: City are focused and are capable of performing even better than the manner of this handsome victory.


www.theguardian.com

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