مقال

De Bruyne sparkles but Jesus´ industry inspires famous City win to justify selection over Aguero

27 شباط 2020 00:01

The tension was palpable as Kevin De Bruyne stepped up to take his penalty at the Santiago Bernabeu.

No doubt Manchester City's issues from the spot were going through the Belgian's mind – he had even been asked about the apparent problem after Sergio Aguero's miss against Leicester City was their fourth successive spot-kick failure.

But there needn't have been any worries in the heads of City fans, players or coaching staff. De Bruyne coolly slotted to his left, calmly placing his kick right into the bottom corner with the kind of assuredness we have come to expect from the midfield dynamo.

It was a just reward for an exceptional display from De Bruyne, who was the driving force behind much of City's best moves, laying on an unmatched four key passes.

Understandably De Bruyne will take many of the plaudits following City's impressive 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Gabriel Jesus more than played his part with a selfless, yet similarly crucial role.

The Brazilian was picked ahead of City's all-time leading scorer, Aguero, causing many-an-eyebrow to raise pre-match and concerning some fans after Thomas Muller's recent suggestion Pep Guardiola overthinks his selections ahead of the biggest games.

When asked if it was a reward for scoring the winner against Leicester after replacing Aguero from the bench late on, Guardiola denied it but kept his cards close to his chest.

Although initially appearing to be lining up as a lone frontman, Jesus started the contest from the left and worked tirelessly on the flank, tracking back but also proving a lively presence in attack.

The 22-year-old ended up with four shots – no one on the pitch had more – despite being asked to play such a role, one akin to the job Wayne Rooney was often tasked with performing for Manchester United on the biggest occasions.

Jesus' locale on the left actually led to him carving out the first chance of the match as he darted into the box from his wide position, cut inside Sergio Ramos and shot at Thibaut Courtois.

On this occasion the finish didn't quite live up to the build-up play.

Playing from the left is by no means a new phenomenon for Jesus, having done so on many occasions as a youngster with Palmeiras and Brazil's youth teams.

But performing such a role in the Champions League, away to Real Madrid, is an entirely different kettle of fish.

Jesus' work ethic was highlighted by the fact no one on the pitch engaged in more duels (14) than him. Eight players were involved in 10 or more, but none came out on top more often than the City forward (57 per cent).

He also completed two tackles, a figure bettered by no one, and two interceptions – only three players made more.

But to only focus on that side of Jesus' performance would be doing him a huge disservice.

De Bruyne was the single player to produce more than Jesus' three key passes, while he was there in the right place at the right time to score City's equaliser.

Peeling away from Ramos and cheekily giving him a slight nudge to maximise the space, Jesus headed De Bruyne's 78th-minute delivery into the ground and the bounce helped in deceiving Courtois as the Brazilian made light of the cross' lack of pace.

He might have got himself a second goal as he darted in behind Ramos four minutes from time, but he at least succeeded in luring the Spanish centre-back into earning the 26th red card of his professional career.

Guardiola made a bold move in selecting Jesus ahead of the ever-reliable Aguero, but the Argentinian could never have produced a comparable display in such a role.

Jesus more than justified Guardiola's faith – his industriousness and work ethic effectively inspiring one of the most famous results in City's history.

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