Gabriel Jesus insists Manchester City have nothing to apologise for after claiming easing off the throttle is simply not in the club’s nature.
City ran riot on Wednesday as they thrashed League One Burton 9-0 in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final, with Jesus helping himself to four goals at the Etihad Stadium.
However, some critics claim City showed ‘no respect’ by sticking nine on their opponents, an accusation which Jesus has denied, forcing the player into an unexpected defence.
The Brazil striker said: “Every time we respect the opponent. We know we have more quality than Burton but when you don’t work hard, you don’t play very well, and it is difficult to win the game.
“That is what we did, played very well and worked hard. We go onto the pitch thinking, ‘win the game’ and we played very well to win.”
It was a result that never seemed in doubt from the moment the teamsheets were printed, with City manager Pep Guardiola opting for a strong line-up in the hope of wrapping up the tie in the home leg.
Yet he later admitted their ruthlessness surprised even him after the hosts took a fifth-minute lead through Kevin De Bruyne and maintained intensity throughout.
Two more from Jesus and a cross-cum-shot from Oleksandr Zinchenko made it 4-0 at half-time. Jesus claimed another double – completing his second hat-trick of the season – while Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez also got on the scoresheet after the break.
Coming after a hammering of Rotherham in the FA Cup on Sunday, City will feel they have momentum as they resume their pursuit of Premier League leaders Liverpool against Wolves next Monday.
The team have scored 16 goals in their last two games while Jesus, now with 13 for the campaign, is also feeling confident after an indifferent start to the season.
The 21-year-old said: “It is the first time I have scored four goals in the same game so it is very special to me.
“I am so happy because last year I didn’t score a lot and at the beginning of this season. That is difficult because I am a striker and need to score.
“I work very hard every day to play. When I have the chance to play for City, I help the team, I work hard and play well.”
It was a brutal lesson for Burton, who are ninth in League One and return to regular business with a home game against Gillingham this weekend.
“There is no disgrace in what happened to us,” said Brewers boss Nigel Clough. “They put five, six, probably more, past Premier League teams on regular occasions.”
Clough made 45 appearances for City as a player between 1996 and 1998 and experienced two relegations during a tumultuous spell. Since then the club has been transformed beyond recognition.
He said: “It’s a good number of years now but I think every single aspect of the club (has changed).
“The strength of what they’ve done is they’ve done it from the bottom, from the Academy all the way through.
“A lot of clubs just spend big on the first team and think everything else will take care of itself but, across the board, I think this club is on an incredible footing.
“With the finances available to them – it doesn’t always happen – but I think that’s what makes them so formidable.”
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