Not even the most loyal of Manchester City supporters could have predicted the outcome of Saturday lunchtime’s clash with Liverpool when the two sides lined-up up for kick-off at the Etihad.
Jurgen Klopp’s side arrived in Manchester on the back of their resounding 4-0 victory over Arsenal and with confidence high, and they would have fully expected to leave with three points in the bag.
Nonetheless 20-year-old Brazilian Gabriel Jesus had a few other ideas and – alongside the outstanding display from Kevin de Bruyne – he ensured that Liverpool took the trip back down the M62 with nothing to show.
After a relatively cagey opening to proceedings at the Etihad on Saturday Jesus suddenly sprang to life in the opposition third, proving to be a real nuisance for Liverpool’s back-line with his movement.
Pep Guardiola’s decision to play both Sergio Aguero and Jesus certainly paid dividends, with the Argentine’s more advanced positioning on the shoulder of the last defender giving Jesus a sense of freedom to drop deep and roam from side to side, stretching a notoriously ropey Liverpool defence.
From the moment that De Bruyne started seeing more of the ball it enabled the Brazilian to attempt more daring runs, trying to make space for himself or alternatively make room for Aguero.
It was just reward, then, that Jesus got himself on the score-sheet deep into added time at the end of the first-half – just minutes after seeing an effort chalked off for offside – to put the game to bed.
He seemed to ghost in between Liverpool’s two centre-backs to get on the end of De Bruyne’s pin-point and pacey cross and nonchalantly nod past Simon Mignolet, giving City an unassailable lead.
His second effort was perhaps a little easier, keeping pace with Aguero before his strike-partner unselfishly squared the ball to leave Jesus will little else to do other than slot into a gaping goal.
The 20-year-old’s double took his tally for the season to three from the opening four matches and also extended his impressive goal-scoring record at Manchester City to 10 goals in his 12 starts since arriving in January, with Jesus scoring with 10 of the 19 shots on target he’s attempted in that time.
Whilst no striker wants to be substituted when on a hat-trick, the fact Guardiola hauled the striker off with just over half an hour to play shows the importance he has going forward this season.
With six more matches to play in September – and with Feyenoord looming in their Champions League opener on Wednesday – Guardiola knows he will need Jesus firing on all cylinders in midweek.
The young Brazilian has started the season in fine form and, if he can continue in the same vein throughout the next few months, he could put his side in a strong position to challenge on all fronts.