Pep hails his stand-in striker

Manchester City

Boss Pep Guardiola has hailed his second-choice striker Gabriel Jesus following the Brazilian's double in Manchester City's victory over Everton.

Jesus struck both goals at the Etihad Stadium as the Premier League champions claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win against Carlo Ancelotti’s new side, his first defeat as Everton boss since he took over last month.

The double took the 22-year-old’s tally for the season to 13, eight of which have now come in his last eight appearances, and his form in front of goal will give the manager a real headache when Sergio Aguero is fully fit.

Injuries and a lack of starts due to the brilliance of Aguero in the centre-forward position have hampered Jesus since his move to City in January 2017, but Guardiola is pleased with his output.

The City boss, who brought Jesus into the side among five changes, said: “He’s a young player but the way he defends and fights, of course he has to improve, he knows it, and we have spoken together about what he has to do, but I think every day he is better and better.”

Whilst not actually saying it in so many words, Guardiola has hinted that Jesus may not have to wait too long before he becomes the number one striker at the club.

“Sergio is irreplaceable for what he means to our fans, what he’s done in this club, but every year is one season more for Sergio, and we have a lot of games, so we need good back-ups for all the players,” the boss added.

Playing their third game in six days, City were not at their most exhilarating but they largely outplayed Everton and, while Guardiola may have already accepted City are unlikely to catch league leaders Liverpool this season, Jesus will not give up easily.

“We have to keep fighting until the end,” the striker said. “Of course it’s going to be difficult but we have to try.”

The win sees City sitting 11 points behind top dogs Liverpool, who have two games in hand, with Leicester City a point and a place above Guardiola’s side.