Jesus ends drought as City climb to top

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus powering a header past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (not pictured) to make it 2-0 against Everton in the Premier League yesterday. The match ended 3-1 in favour of City, who also scored through Raheem Sterling.
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus powering a header past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (not pictured) to make it 2-0 against Everton in the Premier League yesterday. The match ended 3-1 in favour of City, who also scored through Raheem Sterling.PHOTO: REUTERS

He scores after 5 barren games while team go 2pts clear before Liverpool's big match today

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City 3 Everton 1

LONDON • Manchester City did not have things completely their way against Everton so in emerging with the 3-1 Premier League win, the champions illustrated why they remained title favourites despite losing top spot last Saturday.

They also leapfrogged Liverpool to become leaders again until, at the very least, Manchester United visit Anfield today.

Everton arrived at the Etihad yesterday as the only side not to lose at City's home ground in the two league outings since Pep Guardiola took over in 2016, but left with the record shredded.

City did this by retaining the relentlessness that steamrollered most opponents and that finally wore the visitors' resistance down.

Guardiola made four changes from their midweek Champions League win over Hoffenheim, bringing in Fabian Delph, Riyad Mahrez, Fernandinho and Kyle Walker.

The City boss also resisted starting Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, despite the duo recovering from their respective injuries.

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  • League matches Gabriel Jesus has gone scored in since August, a total of 487 minutes and 18 shots without netting.

Fears in recent weeks that City lack a natural predator in front of goal in the absence of Aguero were quashed by two fine finishes from Gabriel Jesus, who had previously scored only one league goal in 13 games this season.

Having not netted in City's past five games, the Brazil forward was delighted to break his scoring duck, saying: "I'm so happy with the game and with the win. This season is more difficult for me because other clubs are stronger.

"This game was difficult so I am happy. The game was amazing."

Teammate Bernardo Silva was equally thrilled with his side's response after last weekend's defeat at Chelsea, which ended their unbeaten league run, telling reporters: "We are happy especially as we knew we were playing a very tough team. To get the three points is very good."

With temperatures approaching freezing in Manchester, City were nearly caught cold by an early Everton break when Richarlison fired the first big chance of the game over from Lucas Digne's cross.

The Toffees, however, played a big part in their own downfall as Jesus opened the scoring midway through the first half.

Yerry Mina's hopeful punt gave away possession and the defender then played Jesus onside as the latter ran onto Leroy Sane's pass to fire low past Jordan Pickford.

Guardiola's men had to wait just five minutes after the break to make it 2-0, when a patient build-up again found Sane on the left and the Germany winger's cross was met by a bullet header from Jesus.

Marco Silva's players had barely offered any threat in the second period but they got a lifeline 25 minutes from time after Dominic Calvert-Lewin's header flicked off Delph and past the helpless goalkeeper Ederson.

Guardiola responded by sending on Raheem Sterling for Sane and in a week in which the England forward spoke out bravely about the alleged racist abuse he suffered last weekend at the hands of Chelsea fans, he also made his mark on the field by scoring immediately.

Jesus was involved again as he freed Fernandinho, who picked out Sterling to head home for his ninth league goal of the term.

De Bruyne then made his first appearance since Nov 1 - just his fourth in the league this term - after being sidelined by two separate knee injuries and his return will be an early Christmas present ahead of Liverpool's league visit on Jan 3.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 16, 2018, with the headline 'Jesus ends drought as City climb to top'. Print Edition | Subscribe