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English Premier League

Don’t expect Jesus to save City, says Guardiola

New signing stars on his debut, but boss is still fuming after squandering two-goal lead against Spurs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 January, 2017, 10:27am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 January, 2017, 9:10pm

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola warned against expecting too much from new arrival Gabriel Jesus after he made an eye-catching debut in their 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.

Substitute Jesus, a £27 million (HK$259 million) acquisition from Palmeiras, twice went close to giving City victory, heading narrowly over and seeing a goal ruled out for offside.

But having seen his side squander a succession of chances and then blow a 2-0 lead, Guardiola said the 19-year-old Brazil starlet would not be able to solve City’s problems singlehandedly.

“He has his talent, but alone [he] cannot do that. So we have to involve [him] a lot,” said Guardiola.

“If it was one day, today, I would tell you. But it was all the season. We have to score goals and we are not able to do that.

“We try to create, we create, but we don’t score goals and when that happens, it’s impossible to win the games. It’s impossible.”

City went into the game on the back of a 4-0 drubbing at Everton, while Spurs were chasing a seventh successive league win, but it was the home side who looked like the team in form.

After battering Spurs in the first half, they went 2-0 up early in the second half courtesy of a pair of blunders by visiting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris that allowed Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne to score.

But Dele Alli reduced the arrears and after Kyle Walker had escaped punishment for a penalty-box shove on City forward Raheem Sterling, substitute Son Heung-Min swept in a 77th-minute equaliser.

Walker conceded in a television interview that he had pushed Sterling in an attempt to destabilise his England colleague as he shot.

Guardiola said his team’s wastefulness had been the main reason for their undoing, but he suggested he would ask referees’ chief Mike Riley for clarification on the rules.

“The rules here are the rules so maybe Mike Riley one day is going to explain to me when it’s a push here or here or here,” he said.

“Still I don’t understand.”

City remain fifth, nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea, and while Spurs held onto second place, they will be leapfrogged by Arsenal if their neighbours beat Burnley on Sunday.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino conceded City had been “the better team”, but he argued their first goal could have been ruled out for handball by Sane.

Lloris’s headed clearance struck Sane, allowing the German winger to tap into an empty net, before the France goalkeeper’s clumsy attempt to gather Sterling’s cross gifted De Bruyne the second goal.

Pochettino backed his goalkeeper, saying: “I think he kept us in the game in the first half.

“He played very well in the first half, one or two big saves. It’s not changed my opinion of him. For me he’s one of the best keepers.”

Pochettino was also able to offer an upbeat assessment of a hamstring problem that obliged centre-back Toby Alderweireld to go off in the second half.

Pochettino has already lost Jan Vertonghen for around six weeks with ankle ligament damage, but he is confident Alderweireld’s injury is not as serious.

“It doesn’t look bad,” said the Spurs manager. “We don’t know if it was injury or a precaution that he decided to go off.

“He felt tight in his hamstring, but Toby now, when we are talking a little bit, it doesn’t look bad.”

Both teams are in FA Cup action next weekend before returning to league action the following mid-week, City at West Ham United, Spurs at Sunderland.

Guardiola was quoted as having conceded defeat in the title race after his side’s thumping at Everton, but he refuted that suggestion.

“I didn’t say that,” he said. “They said we’d been ruled out of fighting for the trophy, but I’m never going to give up, never.”