Pep Guardiola claimed Gabriel Jesus had made him the “happiest man in the world” after his stunning four-goal performance for Manchester City against Watford.
The Brazilian also provided an assist for Rodri as Premier League leaders City increased their advantage over title rivals Liverpool to four points with an emphatic 5-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Jesus has not been a guaranteed starter in recent seasons but manager Guardiola felt his success was just reward for his hard-working attitude.
Guardiola said: “If there is one person in world football who deserves nights like this it is him. I am pretty sure there is not one person on the staff, in all the people that know him, who is not happy for him. We are delighted for him.
“He helped us a lot to win this game. The assists from Oleks (Zinchenko) and Kevin (De Bruyne) were fantastic but he has to be there.
“When you always behave in a positive way, life, football will reward you with what you deserve.
“Gabriel has an incredible ability. He is always thinking about what is best for the team. When he has days like today I am the happiest man in the world.”
Jesus’ performance came amid speculation over his future sparked by recent strong reports linking City with Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.
Guardiola said: “Every player is happy when they play every game. At the end of the season they may say they want to extend the contract or say they want to leave, but right now I don’t care.
“We have seven games, potentially eight, until the end of the season. This is my only concern. We are going to do everything to try to win every single game.
“Gabriel is a player of ours, he belongs to Manchester City. I don’t know what is going to happen but he is always positive for the team.
“Good things are going to happen in his life. He will have a long and successful career.”
While City’s victory put the onus back on Liverpool to respond against Everton on Sunday and they could start to think about Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid, the outlook for Watford is bleak.
The relegation-threatened Hornets remain seven points adrift of safety having now played more games than the sides immediately above them.
With just five matches remaining, time is running out to avoid an immediate return to the Championship but manager Roy Hodgson is not giving up hope yet.
The former England manager said: “I am not prepared to say it is a nailed-on relegation.
“People are saying it is not looking good, we’ve got an awful lot of work to do and need some good results one after the other.
“I can’t deny that and I can’t make any complaints about people saying that, but I don’t think I need to accept that we are relegated until such a time as we are.”
Reflecting on the loss, he said: “It can’t do the confidence any good. Nobody expected us to get much out of that game but heavy defeats weigh on people’s feelings and their confidence.
“Next week will be a case of trying to lift the confidence to put this game aside.”