EPL

Jesus cuts loose as City keep the lights on in title defence

By Sports Desk December 03, 2019

Gabriel Jesus might have beaten Nick Pope to delight fans of both sublime finishes and easy wordplay, but it was Burnley who were truly counting their blessings after the first half of Tuesday's Premier League encounter with Manchester City.

But for Pope's point-blank stop to deny Raheem Sterling from a devilish Kevin De Bruyne cross and another reaction save with his boot when Bernardo Silva roved into the Clarets' box, Sean Dyche's men would have been playing for pride alone during the second half at Turf Moor. In the end, it mattered little.

After a sapping run of one win in five matches across all competitions, compounded by Liverpool streaking away into the distance, Pep Guardiola's champions looked something like their old selves in a commanding 4-1 win.

There was a pop and fizz to their work, as has always been the case with Guardiola's best sides. In the period between Pope thwarting Silva and the peep of Jon Moss' half-time whistle, Burnley found themselves struck on what Alex Ferguson once dubbed the "passing carousel" after his Manchester United were left discombobulated by Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League final.

Cracked confidence was being fused back together, never more evidently than when City's number nine curled a beautiful finish past the keeper's fingertips from the left-hand side of the penalty area – the ball caressing the side netting on its way in.

Feast follows famine as Jesus ends drought

When it comes to his goalscoring prowess, Jesus' form certainly moves in mysterious ways.

His opener against Burnley was his first goal in 11 matches for club and country – a run that included two comedically terrible penalty misses. If the San Siro goalposts had collapsed after he slotted wide from 12 yards against Atalanta at the start of last month, he would have recreated Diana Ross' USA 1994 opening ceremony masterpiece to perfection.

If that left self-belief dwindling, apologetically scuffing a penalty wide compounded matters when Brazil lost to their old enemies Argentina a week later.

Before that slapstick-embossed drought, the 22-year-old scored in each of his first five starts for City this season. Yet, the extended first-team run guaranteed by Sergio Aguero's thigh injury looked nothing other than a burden at Burnley until the moment Raheem Sterling and David Silva combined to release him to beat Pope.

Like enthusiastic punters at a Christmas fairground, Burnley were back on the carousel after the half-time break.

Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass… WALLOP.

City shuffled their opponents back and forth across the edge of the area, Bernardo Silva floated an inviting cross to the far post and Jesus volleyed a chance into the top corner that he might conceivably have shinned into his own face at any time in the past week.

Jesus then spun James Tarkowski and came agonisingly close to a deserved hat-trick, his self-belief resurrected in timely fashion as the Manchester derby awaits on Saturday.

Rodri provides the prime cut

Burnley were unable to assert themselves as an attacking force, with the often-maligned Nicolas Otamendi acquitting himself well against Chris Wood – the Burnley striker cutting a forlorn figure as his usual partner in crime Ashley Barnes spent the first hour on the bench.

Given the UK audience were enjoying the first Premier League fixtures to be shown live on Amazon Prime, Otamendi – a man with the stars of several Netflix dramas tattooed across his back – might have been an ill-fitting hero.

As it was, record signing Rodri crowned his most accomplished outing in City colours with the blockbuster moment.

Having broken up and distributed play with astute judgement throughout, the former Atletico Madrid player dispensed with subtlety to lash a bouncing ball high into the net with brutal force from 22 yards.

Riyad Mahrez and Robbie Brady exchanged late goals on a night when City arrived at Turf Moor with their dressing room plunged into darkness by faulty electrics. The yawning gap at the top is down to eight points for now – perhaps the lights have not gone out on this title defence just yet.

Related items

  • BREAKING NEWS: Man City face daunting Real Madrid Champions League last-16 tie BREAKING NEWS: Man City face daunting Real Madrid Champions League last-16 tie

    Pep Guardiola will renew rivalries with Real Madrid after Manchester City were drawn to face Los Blancos in a blockbuster Champions League last-16 tie.

    With City 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, success in Europe is likely to be Guardiola's main priority this season.

    But their hopes of glory in the continent's premier club competition were not helped by a daunting clash with LaLiga giants Madrid, who have triumphed in four of the past six editions.

    Guardiola is no stranger to Madrid having spent four years in charge of their fierce Clasico rivals Barcelona, while he was Bayern Munich coach when they were defeated 5-0 over two legs in the 2013-14 Champions League semi-finals.

    Madrid have previous against City in the competition, too, coming out on top in a last-four clash in the 2015-16 campaign.

  • Ibrahimovic 'unique' but Milan in a different position now - Boban Ibrahimovic 'unique' but Milan in a different position now - Boban

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a "unique" talent but Milan's improving form means they may not make a move for a new forward, says the club's chief football officer Zvonimir Boban.

    The future of veteran free agent Ibrahimovic has been the topic of much discussion in recent weeks, with Milan and Serie A rivals Napoli and Bologna all tipped with a move for his signature.

    Ibrahimovic is a former Rossoneri favourite and won a Serie A and a Supercoppa Italiana during two seasons with the club between 2010 and 2012.

    Boban says even at the age of 38 Ibrahimovic, who decided not to renew his stay with LA Galaxy in MLS, can have an impact on the team but says Milan – who are unbeaten in their past four matches under Stefano Pioli – must take time to weigh up their options.

    "We will see if we have to make transfer moves for a forward," he told Rai Radio 1.

    "However, Ibrahimovic is unique, he can give so much in the short term. He is different from the others even though he is no longer 28 years old. He is a player with plenty of personality and has what it takes to make the atmosphere around a team pivot.

    "When we started negotiating, however, we were in a different position in the table."

    Milan are 10th in Serie A, 11 points off the top four and 18 adrift of table-toppers Inter and Juventus.

  • Spurs the team to avoid in Champions League last 16, says Mourinho Spurs the team to avoid in Champions League last 16, says Mourinho

    Jose Mourinho believes the seeded teams in Monday's Champions League last-16 draw will be keen to avoid his Tottenham side.

    Spurs made it five wins from seven competitive matches under Mourinho with a last-gasp 2-1 win at Wolves on Sunday and will find out their fate for the next round of Europe's premier competition at a draw in Nyon.

    Having finished second in Group B, Spurs will face one of Barcelona, Juventus, RB Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain or Valencia as they continue their attempt to go one better than their runners-up finish last season.

    Tottenham boss Mourinho says his resurgent side pose a threat Europe's big-hitters will want to avoid.

    "We have five options. We don't have much to choose," he said.

    "Basically every team has five or six options in the draw, the teams that finish first they have better luck than to get Tottenham.

    "They have better options than Tottenham, so every team that finished first and has better options than Tottenham, if they get Tottenham in the draw I think they will be very happy to play in our stadium but they know we have a good team."

    Tottenham's win at Molineux leaves them just three points adrift of fourth-place Chelsea in the Premier League.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.