Gabriel Jesus insisted he had not been feeling the pressure before roaring back to form with a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 6-0 Champions League demolition of Shakhtar Donetsk.
Coming after a poor World Cup, the Brazil striker had made an underwhelming start to the campaign, with just two goals and only six starts before Wednesday’s match.
The 21-year-old started to put that behind him as he netted two penalties at the Etihad Stadium and chipped the goalkeeper to claim his first City treble.
“It was a very special night for me,” said Jesus, who has been playing second fiddle to the in-form Sergio Aguero this season
“I’ve been working very hard. I never enter in the pitch under pressure to score goals but I know my position requires me to score goals.
“If I am helping my teammates in some way, giving assistance, passing the ball, I’ll already be very happy but, of course, in my position I have to score.”
Jesus dedicated his hat-trick to his mother, who was at the game.
City proved far too strong for the Ukrainians, overpowering them for a second time in a fortnight to take command of Group F and move closer to qualification for the last 16.
They were aided by a huge slice of luck for their second goal, however, after David Silva had given them an early lead. Raheem Sterling was unchallenged when he fell in the area after stubbing his toe and Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai remarkably awarded a penalty.
Jesus accepted the chance and later grabbed another from the spot after Silva was felled. Between the penalties, Sterling scored a stunning goal and City wrapped up the win with a late effort from Mahrez and Jesus’s cool injury-time lob.
The win should put City in good heart heading into Sunday’s derby against Manchester United but Jesus feels the team can still get better.
“We cannot be in the comfort zone ever,” he said. “I do not like that, it does not help anyone. We have to improve a lot. Who does not have to improve?”