Pep Guardiola has praised Gabriel Jesus for downing Real Madrid in the Champions League, insisting the Manchester City striker “was the man of these two games”.
City were protecting a 2-1 first-leg lead when they welcomed Madrid to the Etihad Stadium on Friday night, after a famous victory at the Bernabeu prior to the coronavirus-enforced break in the season.
Jesus scored the equaliser for the Blues in that contest, before winning the penalty which Kevin De Bruyne stepped up to convert to complete a memorable turnaround.
With Sergio Aguero still out recovering from surgery on a knee injury, the Brazilian forward was again asked to lead the line in the return leg, and proved to be the difference between the two sides once more.
City opened the scoring when Jesus robbed Raphael Varane of possession in the Madrid box and teed up Raheem Sterling, who had the simple task of tapping into an empty net.
A Karim Benzema header levelled up proceedings, but Jesus had the final say deep into the second half, as he pounced on a short headed back-pass from Varane and knocked the ball past the onrushing Thibaut Courtois to put City 4-2 up on aggregate.
Guardiola’s men can now look forward to a quarter-final meeting with Lyon next weekend, and the Spaniard was quick to credit Jesus for his impact over the two legs in his post-match interview.
“This competition will punish you – but Gabriel made his contribution,” the City boss told reporters. “He is the best guy at making these kinds of actions.
“Gabriel was the man of these two games. He scored in Madrid, won the penalty, and then today he made an assist and scored a goal.
“Gabriel always helps with more than goals, but for a striker, it’s important to score. For big players, it’s important to show on the biggest stage.
“He has done it twice and he made a big step to say: ‘Here I am, I can win games myself’.”
Jesus described City’s latest victory as “massive” before admitting that he tries to emulate Brazil legend Ronaldo whenever he steps out onto the pitch.
“I work to be a great striker, I work every day hard to be like Ronaldo was,” he said. “His quality is different from me but I have to work to be a great striker.”