ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester City 2
Manchester City have renewed hope and a new hero. Gabriel Jesus' stunning start to his career in England continued yesterday. He scored twice to see off Swansea, take his team third and give them a third successive win.
He offered a dramatic 92nd-minute winner, bundling in the rebound after Lukasz Fabianski had saved his initial header. He transformed frustration into elation, giving a City side who had started to look bedraggled a mid-season injection of impetus and a boost to their morale. He is a reminder of Pep Guardiola's pulling power and a scourge to defenders.
He offered more evidence of his precocious brilliance. The boy from Brazil scored 11 minutes into his full home debut. He was on hand to stab the ball in after Martin Olsson challenged Raheem Sterling. Jesus blends trickery with productivity. He found the net again in added time when David Silva crossed, a goal made all the more important because Gylfi Sigurdsson had levelled.
The omission of Sergio Aguero, the third highest scorer in City's history, for a second successive game pointed to a future without the Argentinian. Jesus was preferred again. He is more unpredictable, less of a specialist striker, but a capable scorer.
Five years ago, Aguero's first home goal came against Swansea. History repeated itself with Jesus as City turned to youth. Their front three, including Sterling and Leroy Sane, have an average age of 21. Each was electric and elusive again. Sane, who is starting to justify his £40 million (S$70.3 million) fee, hit the post from an improbable angle.
There were reasons why Guardiola's team could have scored more. Swansea had a seventh-minute reprieve when Alfie Mawson wrestled Jesus. They had another let off when Fabianski sent Sterling flying.
Mike Dean, the referee who awards the most penalties, declined to point to the spot and booked Sterling for supposed diving.
Fabianski also flew to his right to tip Yaya Toure's free kick away. Yet after a one-sided first half, Swansea improved. They had won away at Anfield 15 days earlier. They almost produced a second shock.
Their threat came in the shape of the superb Sigurdsson. The Icelander's set-piece expertise has been advertised before. It was apparent again in a menacing free kick that Willy Caballero did well to touch on to the post, and a corner that Mawson headed wide.
Then he drilled a shot through John Stones' legs and past Caballero. They seemed set to be rewarded for Paul Clement's half-time change, when he urged them to play further up the field. They started to press City. They gained a reward, and then found it plucked from them. City's reward was to go above Arsenal and Liverpool.
They progressed the hard way, but in a memorable manner.