The Manchester City fans who made the trip to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup earlier this season got to see something special.
Their wonder kid, Gabriel Jesus, made his first start for the club having arrived in January.
At 19 and already spearheading Brazil’s attack in front of Neymar, Coutinho and Willian, the former Palmeiras striker dazzled Selhurst Park in a south London hailstorm.
Jesus set up Raheem Sterling’s opener, made an intelligent call to leave David Silva’s ball to run for Leroy Sane, and won the free-kick that saw Yaya Toure curl City’s third into the top corner.
Jesus’s full debut was reminiscent of Sergio Aguero’s back in 2011, when the Argentina striker came off the bench to score twice and set one up against Swansea.
Admittedly, Aguero’s impact was more direct and devastating for the opposition, but there was something in the air when Jesus played against Palace.
Both proved, in a short period of time, their dogged determination, technique and mental strength against rough-and-tumble Premier League defences.
Joe Ledley spent much of his afternoon dropping in from central midfield and trying to rattle Jesus, nipping at his heels and getting in the teenager’s face. But Jesus wasn’t to be stopped. Even in stoppage time, with four defenders in front of him, he put his head down and ran full tilt at the home defence with Ledley trailing behind.
Everyone knew what Ledley was going to do, including Jesus. Instead of ducking out of the slide tackle, he showed him just enough of the ball before whipping it away from the Welshman, winning a free-kick.
Toure found the top corner, and it was the cherry on top of an extremely satisfying day for City fans.
Don’t get us wrong, Aguero’s debut was absurd – particularly his assist for David Silva’s goal that night – but there’s an atmosphere around Jesus, and City fans have taken to him instantly.
Like Aguero, Jesus was instrumental in the win on his full debut. Like Aguero, Jesus took just minutes to capture the hearts of Manchester City fans. Now all they’re waiting for is the goals to fly in after he returns later in the month from a broken metatarsal.