Gabriel Jesus extends Everton's dominance in the victory of Man City
MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola greeted the fighting spirit of Manchester City as Gabriel Jesus extended his remarkable record against Everton with a key from the second half in Wednesday's 2-1 victory.
Jesus was handed the start as City manager Guardiola rested Sergio Aguero, but the decision to select the Brazilian ahead of the club's record goalscorer could easily have been inspired by his mastery of Everton.
Repaying his manager's faith, Jesus ugly on the Everton defense once again.
He has now scored seven times in his last five appearances against the Merseyside club, which must be tired of seeing him.
We play very well, so I am delighted with the boys. This period is very difficult. We did really well. Three points closer and closer to Leicester, Guardiola said.
The city remains third in the Premier league After a second consecutive victory, he left 11 points behind the fugitive leader Liverpool, who has two games in his hand against the champions.
When you are far from the first position, sometimes people give up, but we never give up, Guardiola said.
We have to continue. We have the FA Cup and then the EFL Cup. Other teams lost points for the first four, so it was an important victory.
Richarlison got one back for Everton, but it was a first defeat for new boss Carlo Ancelotti, who had masterminded wins over Burnley and Newcastle in his first two matches since replacing the sacked Marco Silva.
The former Chelsea boss beat Guardiola in his previous meeting: two Real Madrid victories against Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the 2014 Champions League.
There would be no repetition against a City team with a point to prove after a bluffing end for 2019.
City won 10 trophies, including four Premier league titles, in the decade just closed, but Liverpool's remarkable form over the last 18 months is a serious threat to that dominance.
Guardiola has already admitted that City has no chance of catching Liverpool this season, instead of pointing to a more sustained challenge next quarter by admitting they need to play better and pray.
There was no need for divine intervention against Everton, although with Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker among those left out by Guardiola, the visitors nearly snatched a shock lead when Seamus Coleman's volley forced a one-handed save from Claudio Bravo.
City thought they had taken the lead when Phil Foden met Joao Cancelo's center with a close finish in the 13th minute.
But the celebrations of the hosts were shortened by VAR as the goal was ruled out by a tight offside against Riyad Mahrez, who had supplied the pass to Cancelo.
It was the last VAR decision to go against City this season and Mahrez responded with a sharp momentum that forced a good Pickford stop.
The city should have been at the front just before halftime when Jesus chose Mahrez in space in the area, however, the Algerian dragged his shot.
The Guardiola team only needed six minutes to take the lead after the break.
Ilkay Gundogan's pass split the Everton defense and Jesus took a touch inside before a curling a fine finish into the far corner.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin had five goals in his last five appearances and the Everton forward nearly grabbed an instant equalizer with a close-range header that flashed wide.
It was a crucial moment when Jesus struck again in the 58th minute.
Kevin De Bruyne teed up Foden and he found Mahrez as City carved opened the Everton defense before Jesus applied the finishing touch with a powerful low drive for his 13th goal of the season.
City slept in the 71st minute, allowing Richarlison to stay home after Claudio Bravo quickly moved to Fernandinho.
Jesus wasted a chance to kill off Everton when his close-range shot smacked the post in a nervous finale, but City held on.