Gabriel Jesus often flattered to cheat during his five and a few years at Manchester City. The fact that this is his first Premier League hat-trick in this era, despite playing in such a successful team, is perhaps proof that he didn’t quite hold on. its original promise. The Brazilian never became more than a player in his own right and if Arsenal are indeed interested, then they could find some at the Etihad who are at least willing to answer their pleas.
Whatever Jesus’ future may be, however, he clearly still has something to contribute to City’s quest for domestic and European glory by the end of next month if this unstoppable, winning display is anything to go by. Jesus scored four of the champions’ five goals and set up the other to extend their lead at the top to four points, in a display that will be remembered as one of his best for the club.
The opposition may have been just a besieged Watford side, who remain seven drifts from safety under Roy Hodgson and look destined for an immediate return to the Championship, but then you can only beat whoever is ahead you. And in this title race, it’s not enough to beat them. You have to beat them.
Pep Guardiola will not only cherish the three points, which were to be expected, but also the significant increase in the champions’ goal difference. City remain two behind Liverpool in this column, having played one more game, but thanks to four from Jesus and a special long-range strike from Rodri, they have closed the gap and have the games to continue to nibble away. In a race as close as this, all good margins count.
It was never likely to deliver a result that would change the title picture and it didn’t take long for City to take the upper hand, with Jesus first coming after just four minutes. Joao Cancelo’s cross from the right crossed all the way to the left, Oleksandr Zinchenko’s drilled return went through the mass of Watford defenders inside the penalty area and was deflected towards goal by Jesus six meters away.
Considering Guardiola had won all of his previous 10 meetings with Watford by an aggregate score of 42-4, you would suspect it was already over as a contest. Jesus’ move – starting wide on the right but taking frontline positions – proved almost impossible to follow and he was unmarked again for the second, nodding into Kevin de Bruyne’s tantalizing cross at the second post.
However, Watford were threatening in previews and could have equalized earlier when Cancelo’s sloppy use of possession prompted a one-on-one for Emmanuel Dennis. Zinchenko’s heroic recovery run and slippery challenge stopped the Watford striker in his tracks, but later no one was on hand to carve out a delicious Dennis chip to play in left-back Hassane Kamara. A low but not particularly hard strike went too easily through Ederson for 2-1.
City’s two-goal cushion would, however, be restored within minutes and in spectacular fashion. Jesus was involved once again but turned provider this time, intercepting a loose pass from Tom Cleverley by the corner flag and picking off Rodri at the edge of the penalty area with a smart, clipped ball. A chest down set up the breathtaking half-volley that followed, rising high and into the top left corner out of Ben Foster’s helpless reach.
After getting Watford back into the game once, City weren’t about to let that happen again and won a penalty just 14 seconds from the start of the second half. Kamara was the culprit, tangling awkwardly with Jesus on another of the sharp tracks on the right. Although not usually City’s penalty taker, he immediately took possession of the ball and despite a long three-minute wait for VAR to check and confirm the kick, he converted for his hat-trick, sending Foster the wrong way.
And again, a hat-trick in the first league assured, he had not finished there. Five minutes later, Jesus completed City’s smooth counterattack by slotting De Bruyne’s pass inside the near post. City effectively said from then on as Guardiola eventually took the opportunity to rest and rotate ahead of the Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid on Tuesday, with De Bruyne the first to recover. detach. At this point in the season, it’s a team game, and Jesus’ irresistible display proved that.