Pep Guardiola emphasised the importance of Gabriel Jesus’ brace as Manchester City swept Everton aside to return to the top of the league. That reign could be short-lived if Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday afternoon but Guardiola was happy with the effort from his team to keep the pressure on the Reds for the title.
Jesus had struggled for form this season scoring just once in 13 Premier League appearances. But Guardiola opted to rest Sergio Aguero though with a match against Leicester coming up in the Carabao Cup quarter-final and put his faith in the Brazilian against the Toffees.
The 21-year-old rose to the occasion threatening in the very early stages of the game. It wasn’t long before Jesus delivered the breakthrough with a strong strike across Jordan Pickford’s goal courtesy of a lovely weighted through ball from Leroy Sane.
Jesus had the ball in the net again in the 42nd minute but saw his effort ruled out for offside. He did eventually bag his brace shortly after the break though, linking up with Sane again to give his side a comfortable lead. Guardiola expressed the significance of those goals not just to the team but to the player himself after a tough start to the season.
"[Gabriel Jesus] settled so well from the beginning but it is better his family is here and strikers need to score goals. I am pretty sure he scored two nice goals that will be important for him," Guardiola told BBC Sport.
He also praised the strength in depth of his squad who started without a number of star names including Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, both of whom joined Aguero on the bench. Everton made a tough game of it for the defending champions and threatened to steal a point after Dominic Calvert-Lewin reduced the deficit to 2-1.
But it was Sterling who would have the final say in the affair, scoring just three minutes after coming off the bench to hand City the victory.
"Everton are a top side. They drew at Stamford Bridge, at Liverpool it came down to the last second. I am very pleased,” he added.
"The players responded [to defeat at Chelsea] in a marvellous way. Everton have top players. Today was tricky - a dangerous, dangerous game."