Manchester, England (AP) — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is keeping a close eye on Gabriel Jesus now the young striker’s family are no longer with him in England.
Maintaining his hot streak in front of goal should keep the Brazilian’s spirits high.
The 21-year-old Jesus scored twice in City’s 3-0 win over 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Monday, extending his spree to seven goals across three different competitions in the past nine days.
Whether he can retain City’s sole striker spot ahead of club great Sergio Aguero, who started on the bench after a recent illness, remains to be seen but Jesus cannot be doing any more to impress his manager, Pep Guardiola.
“I know Sergio Aguero is an amazing player and helps me a lot,” Jesus said. “When Sergio plays he helps the team, and when I play I want to help as well.
“I play better now and to score goals is important to me.”
And having two in-form strikers can only boost City’s chances of reeling in Liverpool in the Premier League title race. Liverpool’s lead was trimmed to four points by City’s win over Wolves, for whom the match was a damage-limitation exercise from the moment center back Willy Boly was handed a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Bernardo Silva in the 19th minute.
By then, Jesus had tapped in a left-wing cross from Leroy Sane, who was found by a searching ball forward from center back Aymeric Laporte, to put City in front in the 10th minute.
Jesus added his second goal from the penalty spot in the 39th after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Ryan Bennett.
City piled on the pressure in the second half — they finished the game with 76 percent possession — but had only one more goal to show for it, with Conor Coady glancing a header into his own net from substitute Kevin De Bruyne’s cross.
Since losing back-to-back league games around the Christmas holiday to drop out of the lead and, at one point, be seven points behind Liverpool, City have been in relentless form — winning five straight matches in all competitions and scoring 24 goals in the process. Among them was a 9-0 win over third-tier Burton in the English League Cup, when Jesus scored four times.
Guardiola spoke ahead of the game about the club needing to rally around the striker because he might start to find life difficult after his mother, two older brothers and nephew returned to Brazil following an extended stay in Manchester to help Jesus acclimatize.
And teammates Sane and Sterling could not have handed him easier opportunities to continue his scoring run.
Wolves were potentially tricky opponents for City, given their strong record against the top six in the league. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team drew against City at home in August and recently beat Tottenham.
Boly’s straight red card put paid to any chance of an upset at Etihad Stadium and Wolves failed to have a shot on target. And neither Boly nor Espirito Santo had any complaints about the decision, with the defender having got the ball in a challenge with Silva only to catch him with the follow-through.
“The game 11 vs. 11 was the same as 11 vs. 10,” Guardiola said.
It was the 16th time this season that City have scored three or more goals. This latest victory moved the champion five points clear of third-placed Tottenham, who lost at home to Manchester United on Sunday.
Liverpool will also be wary of City’s improved form.
“All we can do is win our own games,” Guardiola said. “We spoke many times in the last hours about this to our players. We cannot control what they do. We can control what we do. The only way to do that is by being there. Maybe one day they fail and we try to be there.
“But you can be sure if we don’t win, they will be champions.”