Gabriel Jesus has said he did not deserve to score his first goal for Manchester City since August in their 6-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk after Raheem Sterling was awarded a penalty tripping himself up.
The Brazil striker went on to score his first career hat trick, with the opening goal on Wednesday coming after referee Viktor Kassai believed Sterling was fouled in the box.
Jesus, 21, added another from the spot before scoring again in injury time, and he said it was a relief to end his goalscoring drought.
“[Relief] defines my first goal,” he told Esporte Interativo. “I am self-critical and honest with myself, so I know I’ve been playing well but without scoring.
“I’ve been helping more the team, shooting more, playing in the way I know, I’m working hard. I can’t say I deserved, it but I finally scored.”
After breaking into the team when he first arrived from Palmeiras in January 2016, Jesus has had a difficult year.
He missed the first two months of 2018 with a knee injury and has struggled to rediscover his form, failing to score at the World Cup in the summer as Brazil crashed out in the round of 16.
“It has been difficult since my first injury. It wasn’t a simple one, it was hard to have surgery,” he said. “Obviously, I won’t complain or give up. I always say what I feel and I can’t say I’m happy with the past months, but all things must pass.
“I have a strong mind and a huge support of family and friends, it counts a lot to stand up again. I just want to work hard, keep my chin up and run after my dreams.”
City have now scored 12 goals in their last two matches at the Etihad Stadium ahead of this Sunday’s Manchester derby, but Jesus is expecting a tough game against United, who snatched a late win against Juventus on Wednesday, and fought back from 2-0 down to beat City in April.
“No, it’s not a warning,” he said. “Our team has been playing well. with the rotation that exists. Everyone who comes on to the pitch has one clear intention to help the team and win.
“I think it will be a very difficult game, as does everyone. United will come with the desire to win, just like they did last year. And it’s up to us to play our game because we are at home and we have to win.”