Richard Buxton: Gabriel Jesus must learn to behave
Man City striker's sending-off and histrionics mar Brazil's crowning moment
Gabriel Jesus' entire career has been devoted to becoming Neymar's equal.
From making a quantum leap from Brazil into elite-level European football to bespoke tattoos; everything the world's most expensive player has done, his compatriot sought to emulate.
Now there is little separating the Sao Paulo natives after their homeland's triumphant Copa America campaign culminated in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 3-1 win over Peru.
The Selecao have not missed Neymar this summer - why would they?
For all the talent that the want-away Paris Saint-Germain star possesses, his obsession with histrionics were increasingly an unwelcome distraction. They are also easily replaceable.
In the Maracana, "Neymar, who?" was superseded by "Jesus, why?"
The Manchester City striker followed up a Man-of-the-Match display with a meltdown plucked from the playbook of the man he is tipped to succeed for the national side.
He was shown a second yellow card in the 70th minute following a late challenge on Christian Cueva.
After initially refusing to leave the pitch, he kicked a water bottle, punched a booth and toppled a VAR (video assistant referee) monitor before gesturing manically in the tunnel area while fighting back tears.
Had he been wearing Brazil's No.10 shirt, no one would have flinched.
Such acts of self-indulgent recklessness at crucial moments are par for the course with Neymar. Few, however, would have expected it from Jesus, especially after he had put the hosts ahead with a goal and assist.
In another game, it would have proved more costly; last week's semi-final win against Argentina being the most obvious example.
It would have also signalled a death knell to the 22-year-old's future Ballon d'Or credentials if he was rendered little more than Neymar-lite.
But Jesus is more than a pale imitation of the global game's enfant terrible.
His admiration for Neymar is already well-established after claiming that the 27-year-old treats everyone around him "like his brother" when on international duty.
Elder siblings also have a tendency to lead their impressionable underlings down the wrong path.
Jesus, for his part, acknowledges the "need to grow up a lot" after this rare outburst. Even the preceding red card was out of the ordinary as only the second dismissal of his career and coming over three years since that initial ignominy while playing for Palmeiras.
Doubling down and remaining unrepentant may have been an easier option.
He could have taken the Neymar route out. Except Pep Guardiola taught him far better than that.
The level of nurture Jesus receives from the City manager, and in his current surroundings at the Etihad Stadium, has been key to realising his potential. He allows football to do the talking.
It is why he also embraced the challenge of vying with Sergio Aguero to lead the line for the reigning English Premier League champions rather than throwing his toys out of the pram.
Guardiola has instilled a relentless drive in Jesus which saw him having a direct hand in four successive goals for Brazil as they belatedly laid to rest the ghosts of the 2014 World Cup.
Maintaining that hunger will be key to him ultimately usurping Aguero in the long run.
Until then, he will need to learn from the misstep at the Maracana and ensure that it remains a rare blot on his copybook rather than a regular occurrence.
Being the best version of himself is still a significant upgrade on a poor man's Neymar.