Gabriel Jesus struck a “special” hat-trick as Manchester City wrapped up their Champions League group campaign with a convincing 4-1 win at Dinamo Zagreb.
Phil Foden also got on the scoresheet as City responded strongly to a stunning early strike from Dani Olmo on a freezing night at the Maksimir Stadium in Croatia.
After an eight-game scoring drought, Jesus has now struck five times in three matches since stepping into the side for the injured Sergio Aguero.
👏 Make that 9 hat-trick heroes in the #UCL this season!
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 11, 2019
“It’s special,” the Brazil striker told BT Sport. “When I was young, I’d think about the Champions League. I wanted to play, I wanted to score, I wanted the ball.
“For me it’s a very special moment when I score goals and a hat-trick as well.”
With uncertainty over when Aguero will return from a thigh problem, Jesus could continue leading the line for this weekend’s Premier League trip to Arsenal.
Great performance from the team, well done guys! 🤜🏽🤛🏽🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/3Y4nunPVth
— Gabriel Jesus (@gabrieljesus33) December 11, 2019
Jesus said: “I have to do my job, my job is to score goals and help the team, without the ball and with the ball.
“Last month I was not scoring and I feel so bad because I have to score and help my team-mates.
“Now the goals are coming so I’m so happy but I cannot stop – I have to keep scoring.”
City had already qualified for the last 16 as group winners but the victory ensured they finished unbeaten with 14 points.
Guardiola made eight changes from the side beaten by Manchester United last weekend. Some were through necessity with John Stones injured and Fernandinho suspended but others allowed the likes of Raheem Sterling – who did appear as a late substitute – Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker a rest.
Guardiola said: “We didn’t play for points, we played for ourselves. It was important to finish in that way, and with no injuries or yellow cards.
“We will now focus on the Premier League and other competitions and see in what condition we are when we arrive in February.”
The other stand-out performance came from 19-year-old Foden, who also provided an assist as he took advantage of a rare start in the absence of David Silva.
Guardiola said: “He was so good. When he plays close to the box he can attack central defenders and he’s incredibly dangerous. He played really well.”
Dinamo had gone into the game harbouring hopes of reaching the knockout stages but, with Atalanta beating Shakhtar Donetsk, the defeat sent them bottom to the bottom of the group.