Gabriel Jesus stars in starting role, helps Manchester City rout West Ham
LONDON (AP) — Gabriel Jesus marked his full Premier League debut with a goal and an assist as Manchester City's new-generation attacking machine tore through West Ham in a ruthless 4-0 Premier League victory on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Brazilian prodigy flaunted his speedy talents to devastating effect against a disjointed West Ham, showing he has quickly adapted to English football. Only one area needs some work — his discipline — after waving an imaginary card at the referee and being shown the real thing in yellow.
Aside from that lapse, he slipped into a thrilling triumvirate up front with 22-year-old Raheem Sterling and 21-year-old Leroy Sane. Their challenge now is to turn City into title-challengers again, with Pep Guardiola's side remaining fifth.
Such is the trio's youthfulness, the 25-year-old Kevin De Bruyne seems a veteran. He remains a key cog in the team, pulling the strings from midfield, instigating attacks — just as he did for the opener.
On an inept night for West Ham, Aaron Creswell's poor pass on the halfway line allowed De Bruyne to seize possession and launch a counterattack. The Belgium international carried the ball forward through the center of pitch unchallenged before rolling it out to Gabriel Jesus on the right flank. As De Bruyne advanced, Gabriel Jesus squared a pass back to the midfielder who coolly swept a shot into the bottom corner in the 17th minute.
On De Bruyne's 50th Premier League appearance, this was his 11th goal, and he was the creator of City's second four minutes later. A throughball to Sane allowed the German to dribble in from the left before laying off the cutback for David Silva to tap-in.
Gabriel Jesus' shining moment came six minutes before halftime, completing a move that started with more sloppiness from West Ham. Pedro Obiang conceded possession and Sane exploited the carelessness before threading the ball through to Sterling. The England winger picked out Gabriel Jesus to slot home.
Few goals will be easier for Gabriel Jesus in the Premier League but few teams will roll over as meekly as a West Ham side reeling from the January transfer window departure of Dimitri Payet, its brightest of midfield talents.
The loss of one player, however gifted, cannot account for such a capitulation but West Ham was coming up against a Manchester City side attacking with abandon.
It was exemplified by high quality passes such as the one De Bruyne threaded through to Sterling in the second half. Sterling couldn't continue his advance on goal as he was tripped by January recruit Jose Fonte, but Yaya Toure did convert from the spot in the 67th minute.
On a night when City provided a glimpse of the promising future, Toure and Silva were the only two players in the starting lineup who also started the game that clinched the team's first Premier League title five years ago.
Roberto Mancini, City's 2012 title-winning manager, was in the east London stands on Wednesday to watch this fresh generation in action under Guardiola's command. So too was Sergio Aguero, whose stoppage-time goal against Queens Park Rangers clinched that title, with the 28-year-old striker forced to watch from the bench until replacing Sterling in the second half.
Such was City's ruthlessness, there was little attention on the other bold decision by Guardiola. After failing to make a save in a month, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was dropped to the bench and replaced by Willy Caballero, who faced only one shot on target.