Watford manager Roy Hodgson compared Gabriel Jesus to Brazilian icon Ronaldo after the Manchester City forward scored four goals against the Hornets.
Relegation-battling Watford travelled to the Etihad on Saturday afternoon looking to keep their slim safety hopes alive, seven points behind Everton with six games left to play.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for Watford, particularly against a Man City side trying to keep control of the Premier League title race, but the Hornets had a mountain to climb after Jesus opened the scoring inside five minutes.
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Jesus has been playing mostly on the wing for Man City this season, with Pep Guardiola favouring a False No.9 after missing out on Harry Kane in the summer, and the Brazilian’s future has been in doubt.
In the past week, Jesus has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal who are looking to replace Alexandre Lacazette, so all eyes were on him at the Etihad. And he turned up.
After opening the scoring inside five minutes, Jesus went on to secure another three, including one from the penalty spot to help Man City ease past Watford. In one game alone, the Brazilian had scored more Premier League goals than he had managed in his previous 23 appearances this season, taking his total tally to seven.
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Jesus also set up Rodri’s goal in the first half, becoming the first player to be directly involved in five goals in a Premier League game this season and only the second in Man City’s history.
And Hodgson had very high praise for the Brazilian, appearing to compare him with Ronaldo, who he managed while at Inter Milan.
“He was very, very good,” he told reporters.
“I never saw the best of Ronaldo… but Jesus today was excellent.”
In five games under Hodgson at Inter Milan, Ronaldo scored five goals, joining just as the Englishman’s spell was nearing its end.
As well as scoring his first Premier League hat-trick, Jesus also became just the fifth Brazilian to net a treble in the competition’s history, joining Afonso Alves, Robinho, Roberto Firmino and Lucas Moura. However, he is the first Brazilian to score four goals in a Premier League game.
Gabriel Jesus is the first player to be directly involved in five goals in a Premier League game this season. 📞 https://t.co/UvnLM9Aop6
— Squawka (@Squawka) April 23, 2022
While some may look at Jesus’ seven goals for the season as a low amount for a striker, the Brazilian has been contributing a lot from the wing. His assist for Rodri took the Brazilian to eight for the season, more than any other Man City player in the Premier League. Only Kevin De Bruyne (17) and Riyad Mahrez (16) have been directly involved in more goals for Man City than Jesus’ 15.
And Guardiola was thrilled with the Brazilian’s performance.
“If there’s one person who deserves the best in life for him, his family and his friends, it’s Gabriel,” he told Sky Sports.
“All of us at the club, when he has one of these situations, we’re happy for him because he’s so generous. It doesn’t matter what position he’s going to play, we know how he fights for his mates. He’s fantastic.”