Wednesday 13 December 2017

Jesus resurrects good vibes for Guardiola with last-gasp winner

Swansea City 1 Manchester City 2

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring their first goal. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring their first goal. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

James Ducker

There is unlikely to be much disquiet for long about Sergio Agüero being dropped if Gabriel Jesus keeps doing this.

It has taken Manchester City's new Brazilian boy wonder no time to find his feet in the Premier League and the rescue act he performed here will have felt familiar to the man he has usurped up front.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero in action with Swansea City's Federico Fernandez. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero in action with Swansea City's Federico Fernandez. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Agüero has salvaged plenty of games for City down the years but, while he was assured by manager Pep Guardiola that he still has an important role to play, the Argentina striker raised doubts for the first time about his future at the club yesterday.

"I have to help the team as much as I can in these three months that are left, afterwards we'll see what the club wants to do with me," he said. "In three years my contract is up - that's why I say I'm happy at the club. I want to stay, of course. As I say, the club will decide if I have a place here or not."

Swansea were the victims when Agüero thrilled City supporters on his debut at the Etihad Stadium in August 2011.

Fast forward five-and-a-half years and, on his first home start for City, it was easy to feel that same sense of anticipation, of excitement and exhilaration around Jesus that once applied to Agüero.

Swansea City's Kyle Naughton in action with Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Swansea City's Kyle Naughton in action with Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

That is not to write off the Argentinian by any stretch. At 28, he remains a potent weapon, one Guardiola insists he will continue to utilise over the remainder of the campaign.

Nor is Agüero likely to sulk simply because he is finally encountering some serious competition in his position.

"It must not be easy but (Agüero's reaction to being dropped) was perfect," Guardiola said.

However, Jesus offers City's attack the sort of electrifying intensity that Guardiola fears a succession of muscle injuries in recent seasons have perhaps curbed in Agüero and it was his £27m January recruit from Palmeiras that ensured an afternoon that was in danger of following a familiar script for the manager ended on a high note.

Congested

As the game entered stoppage time, Guardiola was staring at another two points dropped in the congested battle for Champions League qualification.

Swansea, much improved after the interval, had equalised nine minutes from time through Gylfi Sigurdsson to cancel out Jesus' 11th-minute strike, and the Catalan was braced to reflect on another match when his side had failed to make the most of their first-half supremacy.

Jesus, though, had other ideas and, when David Silva, under no pressure, whipped over a delicious ball, the 19-year-old forward had stolen behind Swansea's careless defence to power a header at Lukasz Fabianski.

The goalkeeper saved the shot but could not smother the ball and the livewire Jesus was the first to respond, slotting home the rebound on the goal-line.

Swansea manager Paul Clement was annoyed that a free-kick City had won beforehand was allowed to be taken 10 yards from where the offence was committed but that did not excuse his team's subsequent defending.

If Jesus' brief-but-lively debut against Spurs had pricked people's attention and energetic displays against Crystal Palace and West Ham United whetted the appetite, this performance suggested City have unearthed something special.

Victory moved City up to third, a point behind Spurs. It could prove a crucial goal come the final reckoning, albeit a cruel one for Swansea in their battle against relegation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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