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Guardiola on Gabriel Jesus’ treble boost

PLEASED AS PUNCH: Pep Guardiola expressed his delight, after City's 6-0 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk...

PLEASED AS PUNCH: Pep Guardiola expressed his delight, after City's 6-0 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk...

Pep Guardiola hailed Gabriel Jesus’ ‘fighting quality’ after the Brazilian netted his first senior hat-trick in City’s 6-0 demolition of Shakhtar Donetsk.

The striker marked a superb individual and team display with two successful spot-kicks and an exquisite injury-time chip to move the Blues to within touching distance of securing qualification to the last 16.

Without a goal since the Carabao Cup triumph at Oxford, Gabriel Jesus had endured an unusual drought – but has rekindled his scoring form at the perfect time, with Pep Guardiola’s men in the midst of a packed period of fixtures and ahead of Sunday’s mouth-watering Manchester derby.

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Highlighting his striker’s workrate and determination, Guardiola expressed his delight.

"It's important,” he declared. “Strikers live for goals but the quality of Gabriel is that it doesn't matter what happens – he always fights.

"You cannot have any regrets. At 2-0, he had another clear option (which he missed) but he continued to fight and help us.

"We need all the guys for the rest of the season. It is important for his confidence and for the rest of the team."

With City having netted six for the second successive game, Guardiola also urged his side to ride the crest of the wave.

SPOT-ON: Gabriel Jesus coolly slots home City's second

Highlights

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City 6-0 Shakhtar Donetsk: Match highlights

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"I am really happy,” he reflected. “We made again an incredible performance in the way we attack and defend.

"The only problem is if we believe it is easy - it's not.

"We are unfortunate not to have qualified but we are so close. We need to keep and maintain that level.

"Tonight, we are not going to think too much about the derby. We are going to enjoy that [victory].

"After the defeat to Lyon and the goal in the first minute in Germany, it was so complicated.

"We have reacted really well. We are in a good position but it is not done.

"We have to keep focused on what we have to do. Tomorrow, we will start to focus on United."

City’s second goal against Shakhtar arrived in controversial fashion, as a penalty was awarded after Raheem Sterling went to ground in the area. Replays showed the winger tripped, kicking the grass, as he attempted a chip and Guardiola sympathised with the referee.

“We realised it was not a penalty,” he admitted.

“He didn’t want to concede a goal. He could do that (argue the decision). We don’t like to score goals in that situation but he didn’t realise.

“He wanted to make a chip and touched the grass.

OPENING TIME: Wesley Hoedt deflects Leroy Sane's shot into the Southampton goal

Highlights

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City 6-1 Southampton: Brief highlights

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“Referees must be helped. They want to make a good performance but the game is quick and players are more skilled.

“It takes three or four seconds to make a decision – penalty or no penalty.

“[I am most pleased] that we were consistent. We attacked really well and defended really well.

“We are such a humble team and everybody commits to winning the ball.

“We most right to left, and left to right so quickly. For opponents, it is not easy.

“The quality of players we have at the front makes the difference.

“We have 22, 23 players in the squad. You have to try to be involved as much as possible.

“Some players play more but everybody is ready and has commitment to help the team.

“We have one more game before the international break. We are going to try (to beat United).”

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