Gabriel Jesus fires twice as Manchester City snatch top spot from Liverpool by beating Everton

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus scores their second goal in their game against Everton at the Etihad Stadium. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Gabriel Jesus fires twice as Manchester City snatch top spot from Liverpool by beating Everton

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola welcomed Gabriel Jesus’s return to form as the Brazilian struck twice in a 3-1 win over Everton as Manchester City leapfrogged Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League.
Jesus hadn’t scored a Premier League goal for four months before opening the scoring midway through the first-half and bulleted home a header to double City’s lead early in the second-half.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin briefly gave Everton hope, but Raheem Sterling came off the bench to make the game safe with his first touch and move City two points ahead of Liverpool, who host Manchester United on Sunday.
“Strikers need to score goals,” said Guardiola of Jesus’s man-of-the-match performance. “The difference today was that he scored as he was in better positions.”
Guardiola could even afford the luxury of leaving Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero on the bench on their return from injury as the Catalan coach again shuffled his pack for the busy festive period.
But fears in recent weeks that City lack a predator in front of goal when Aguero is absent were quashed by two fine finishes from Jesus.
“My confidence is back because my family is here and it helps me a lot. I needed my family in this moment,” said the Brazilian international.
“This year it (the title) will be more difficult because the (other) clubs will play better. I think it is very important we have come back to first position.”
With temperatures approaching freezing in Manchester, City were nearly caught cold by a rare Everton break early on when Richarlison fired the first big chance of the game over from Lucas Digne’s cross.
“The biggest chance was our chance with Richarlison,” Everton boss Marco Silva said.
“Against these teams we have to be effective when we create opportunities to score.”
And Everton also played a big part in their own downfall at the other end when Jesus opened the scoring.
Yerry Mina’s hopeful punt gifted away possession and the Colombian then played Jesus onside as the Brazilian ran onto Sane’s pass to fire low past Pickford.
The England number one handed Liverpool victory in the Merseyside derby earlier this month, but Pickford wasn’t so charitable to City as he made an excellent save to prevent Riyad Mahrez doubling the hosts’ lead just before half-time.
The champions 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 German’s cross was met by a powerful header from Jesus.
Everton had barely offered any threat in the second period before they got back into the game 25 minutes from time, Calvert-Lewin’s header from a high-hanging Digne cross flicking off Fabian Delph and past the helpless Ederson.
Guardiola responded by sending on Sterling for Sane and in a week when the England international has bravely spoken out about the alleged racist abuse he suffered last weekend by Chelsea fans, he also made his mark on the field by scoring immediately.
“I think Raheem has handled the last few years in terms of situations and rumors, about him or his family or the color of his skin very calmly,” added Guardiola.
“I admire him and appreciate that it’s not easy for him. He’s loved by all staff and in the locker room.”
Jesus was involved again as he freed Fernandinho inside the area and his cross picked out the unmarked Sterling to score a rare header.
De Bruyne then made his first appearance for six weeks — just his fourth in the Premier League all season, all of which have come as a substitute — after lengthy absences for two knee injuries.
Other than defeat to Chelsea last weekend, City have barely missed a beat without the Belgian, but the return of their player of the year in last season’s record-breaking campaign is an early Christmas present for Guardiola ahead of Liverpool’s visit to the Etihad on January 3.


DOWNPAGE -City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s lead

Updated 12 sec ago
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DOWNPAGE -City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s lead

Manchester City reduced Liverpool’s lead at the top of the English Premier League table to four points as they eventually found top gear to win 3-0 away to basement club Huddersfield Town on Sunday.
This was by no means City’s most outstanding display of the season but, ultimately, goals from Danilo, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane ensured they did not trip up in the latest leg of their quest to keep the Premier League title-race alive.
Liverpool’s captivating 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday ensured this was a crunch fixture for Pep Guardiola’s side, yet any hopes Huddersfield could pull off a shock win never materialized.
The embarrassment of riches available to City manager Guardiola meant Gabriel Jesus, who had scored seven goals in three matches, dropped to the bench alongside David Silva while Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero returned to his starting line-up.
That depth of quality would be difficult for any side to counter, especially a team struggling as much as Huddersfield are at present.
They parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday, a mutual decision but a sad one for Terriers’ fans who will always remember him as the man who not only secured promotion to the Premier League for the Yorkshire club but also kept them in the top-flight last term.
A repeat of that looks highly unlikely this season and this match pitted the Premier League’s highest scorers against the lowest, with Huddersfield having netted just 13 times going into this encounter and having lost eight of their last nine league games.
Huddersfield made six changes for the game but did manage to match reigning English champions City early on.
After 12 minutes, Sterling felt he was denied a penalty after Terence Kongolo’s heavy challenge in the box.
But City’s wait to break the deadlock lasted just six more minutes as Danilo’s fierce shot was deflected past Jonas Lossl by Christopher Schindler.
The goal was City’s 100th of the season in all competitions, a statistic underlining their potent attack, but they were surprisingly lacklustre in the remainder of the first half
One clumsy Kyle Walker foul on Chris Lowe might have been worthy of a red card but the England international escaped with a booking.
An emotional message from Wagner was broadcast on the big screen at the John Smith’s Stadium during the half-time interval and that comfortably eclipsed most of the entertainment offered in the opening period.
Yet after the break, City finally upped the tempo and were soon out of sight.
After 52 minutes, De Bruyne’s pass found Sane on the left and his pinpoint cross was met by Sterling who finished off a diving header with some aplomb.
City’s afternoon soon got even better when Sane then scored a wonderful team goal that demonstrated how City had finally woken up.
Danilo pumped a ball forward and Aguero steered a fantastic cushioned header into the path of Sane who slipped the ball past Lossl.
Immediately, it felt as if Huddersfield would need to enter damage-limitation mode to stop City from running riot as they did in the 6-1 reverse fixture victory at the Etihad Stadium in August.
But to the credit of Huddersfield caretaker coach Mark Hudson, he implored his team to keep on trying to attack despite being three goals down.
However, Huddersfield never really looked like conjuring up a miracle comeback as Stevie Mounie resorted to attempting to score from 30 yards but with little effect.
A close-range header from Mounie was also well saved by Ederson toward the end.
But that incident was the City goalkeeper’s first real piece of action, which said everything about the lopsided nature of this contest.