Foden steals the show for City
It was the fourth goal that did it. Raheem Sterling had threatened, Bernardo Silva had brought his usual energy and Ilkay Gundogan had been decisive. But their young team-mate stole the show.”It feels like the day that Phil Foden has come of age and delivered on that promise that he has shown in the past few years,” Gary Neville told Sky Sports. “We will come back and look at this day, I am sure, because Phil Foden is one hell of a football player.”
Manchester City fans have long lauded Foden as the outstanding talent of his generation but here was someone from the other side of the city left awestruck by his game-changing impact.
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win at Liverpool
As well as completing the scoring in City’s season-defining 4-1 win over Liverpool, Foden provided the assist for the second with a twisting run and measured pass. When it was over, the champions were not only vanquished at Anfield but they were queuing up to praise their young conqueror.Jurgen Klopp described that fourth goal as “a genius situation” as Foden took the ball in his stride before running at Andrew Robertson, shifting, and thundering it past Alisson in one motion.
“I just think that man is silky, courageous, he sees the picture, he has obviously got a bit of pace,” Graeme Souness told Sky Sports. “There is so much to enjoy about this young man.”
Phil Foden gave his own verdict on the significance of Man City’s win at Anfield
For seasoned City observers, it might seem curious that a player with over 100 appearances to his name for the club could possibly be seen to have delivered a breakout performance. Foden earned his Premier League winners’ medal in 2019. He even lit up a Wembley cup final last March.
There have been so many moments of magic already, little landmarks, clips to share with friends. This was not even his first Premier League goal against Liverpool. But it still felt different.
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No Kevin De Bruyne and no Sergio Aguero. Liverpool in need of a result to salvage any hope of clinging to their crown. But with the game in the balance, it was Foden who snatched it from them.Alisson’s error was unexpected. He has saved Liverpool so many times, as Klopp pointed out. But in the period of play that followed there was a sense of the inevitable about Foden’s impact.The run that was too much for Robertson and Jordan Henderson had been coming, the pass to find Gundogan was typical.It was Foden who took responsibility for the expertly weighted free-kick that John Stones converted only to see the offside flag go up. His actual goal was just the denouement.”He was magical for 15 minutes,” said Neville.That is what great players do and if that word – great – feels premature right now there is a growing confidence that it will not feel inappropriate when we are looking back on a career to remember. This will surely be just one of many big matches that Foden ends up swinging his side’s way.
A word too for Pep Guardiola because his handling of Foden has been under scrutiny for much of his reign. The minutes have been a little restricted at times, and yet the century of appearances reveals that to be impatience on the part of an excitable public rather than a case of mean-spirited management.The statistics show that no player currently under the age of 21 – of any nationality – has scored more goals in the Premier League. Add in his six assists and Foden has been involved in more goals in the competition than any other young player. At the age of 20, he is still way ahead of schedule.
Foden has been exposed to European football, making 18 appearances in the Champions League, and tested in a wide variety of different positions as he receives his footballing education. The message from Guardiola after his man-of-the-match display was that the education is far from over.”He is so young,” he told Sky Sports.”Sometimes he still doesn’t understand some positions, what you have to do. So, in the first half he was not in the right position that he has to be, that we work [on]. He gets a little bit distracted in these issues. Playing wide is a little bit easier for him.
Pep Guardiola reflects on his team’s convincing 4-1 win over Liverpool
“Hopefully he can understand and improve because in the first half he was not in the position that we needed and that is why we suffered in some moments to have the control. But he will learn. After that, the action for the second goal and the fourth goal, we know what a huge talent he is.”Everyone knows it. But Guardiola is not going to let him stop learning, not when he can be this good.Foden’s appetite is evident anyway and while there might be some reluctance to include a 20-year-old Englishman with a trio of caps to his name on a list of City’s world-class players, the evidence speaks for itself. It was the fourth goal that did it. Phil Foden stole the show.