Jesus is City's saviour - again
Striking star pinches late, late victory with injury-time strike
Jesus Gabriel has saved Manchester City once more.
On this occasion, the biblical cliches are valid.
He rose and lifted his teammates from the dead.
The boy from Brazil also rescued Pep Guardiola after his manager made a bit of a mess of his tactics.
In the 92nd minute, Jesus saw his header poorly spilled by Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and tapped in the rebound to pinch a 2-1 victory against Swansea yesterday.
Moments earlier, there were mutterings of anarchy around the Etihad. By the final whistle, they were blowing the roof off and moving up to third in the table.
Until then, City's schizophrenia threatened to ruin another performance. Once again, they started as Dr Jekyll. And then they decided to hide.
Guardiola has always taken a perverse pleasure in confounding critics with perplexing selections.
He started with only one recognised centre back in John Stones. In the 81st minute, Gylfi Sigurdsson slipped Stones and buried his long-range effort into the bottom corner.
Thankfully, Jesus saved Guardiola because until he hit the winner, the pundits were shouting out more numbers than a myopic bingo caller.
The Man City fans were praying for a winner and Jesus delivered. Okay, I know!Former Republic of Ireland footballer Jim Beglin
Was it 3-4-3? Was it 4-3-3? And where the hell was Fernandinho playing?
City ran out with seemingly too many midfielders and not enough defenders.
Don’t need to watch him for long to see he’s seriously talented.Former England captain Gary Lineker on Gabriel Jesus
It quickly transpired that Fernandinho was playing at right back, Guardiola had opted for a swashbuckling 4-1-4-1, to feed the teenage sensation up front.
Jesus' eye for goal is perhaps less important than his eye for a teammate. He's unleashed the beast in Leroy Sane, who left poor Kyle Naughton in need of a lie down in a darkened room.
The right back was run ragged and City's inevitable opener, after just 11 minutes, came down the left.
On this occasion, David Silva wriggled free in the box, but his cut-back deflected off Raheem Sterling and into the air.
In came Jesus, gleefully galloping towards the ball like a tongue-flapping dog chasing a stick, and lashed home a volley from six metres.
If the finish was less flamboyant than his first City goal against West Ham, his first against Swansea was a reward for his instinct and industry.
It was a poacher's effort, the kind of finish typically associated with Sergio Aguero. But the Argentinian was relegated to the bench once more, which inadvertently triggered a fascinating debate.
Jesus' recent inclusion has added a youthful spring to City's step. His impudence is infectious and he has brought out the best in Sane and Sterling.
But Guardiola's men conjured enough chances to run up a rugby score by a half-time, but went in with a slender advantage.
As lunging legs missed crosses and near misses whistled past the wood-work, it was hard not to conclude that Aguero might have buried at least one of them.
But Guardiola would not tinker. And his indecision almost proved disastrous.
Indeed, Willy Caballero's fingertips denied Swansea an equaliser straight after the interval, when Sigurdsson swept a free-kick towards the top corner.
Never mind the visitors' first shot on target, it felt like the first time they had ventured anywhere near City's penalty box.
Suddenly, the game took on those schizophrenic qualities that have damaged City's season.
Terrific in the first half and tedious in the second, Guardiola's transitional squad at least confirmed that they remain nothing if not exasperating.
Light-blue tents were pitched around the centre-circle as City camped in Swansea's half, but the hosts struggled to fashion a decent opportunity.
The onus was on City to break in to the bus garage and they couldn't and Swansea profited from Sigurdsson's fine equaliser.
But then, against the odds, Jesus lived up to his name yet again.