Phil Foden's brilliance seals comeback win for Man City against rivals United in derby

Forward stakes his claim for England starting place in front of watching Gareth Southgate

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Manchester City's Phil Foden put in a colossal performance in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate as he put local rivals Manchester United to the sword at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Still only 23, Foden was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch and put in a statement display to stake a claim for a starting spot in England's Euro 24 line-up with two brilliant goals as Pep Guardiola's side came from behind to beat United 3-1.

The visitors had taken the lead through a stunning Marcus Rashford strike eight minutes into the first half, but the United man's own bid for a place in Southgate's starting XI faded as he was guilty of wasting a string of chances before being substituted.

After Foden had dragged his side into the lead, Erling Haaland, who had missed a stone-cold sitter in the first half, wrapped things up with City's third in stoppage time.

Though City dominated possession throughout the game, they fell behind to an early breakaway goal.

It came from a route-one punt upfield by Andre Onana, which was taken under control by Bruno Fernandes and laid off to Rashford 25 yards out.

The England forward this week defended himself against suggestions he was not fully committed to United and his blistering opener was an excellent way to do his talking on the pitch.

He seized the chance as he hit a thunderous first-time shot that flew in off the underside of the bar.

It could even have got worse for City with two more United breaks catching them out.

A Ruben Dias slip allowed Rashford another run at goal but the bounce wrong-footed him and Kyle Walker cleared. Rashford was then unable to make clean contact with a shot after a low ball was whizzed into the area.

Yet these were rare forays in a first half City otherwise controlled, racking up a remarkable 18 shots – their most without scoring in an opening 45-minute period under Pep Guardiola.

Haaland was guilty of their most glaring miss. The prolific Norwegian, who scored five at Luton in midweek, remarkably volleyed over in front of an open goal from a well-cushioned Foden header.

Prior to that Foden and Rodri were both denied by Onana while Jeremy Doku, Kevin De Bruyne and Haaland all failed to make the most of half-chances.

The equaliser came early in the second half as Foden connected with another fine effort from outside the area that curled into the top corner.

United protested, feeling Rashford had been fouled by Walker moments earlier and a furious Erik ten Hag was booked for his reaction on the touchline, but that contact had been deemed minimal by referee Andrew Madley.

The leveller reignited an atmosphere that had become subdued and play was held up after a blue flare was thrown onto the pitch and landed close to Onana.

City continued to probe with Walker shooting at Onana but United retained a threat on the counter-attack and Alejandro Garnacho broke clear only to be denied by an Ederson tackle.

The decisive moment came 10 minutes from time as Foden combined with Julian Alvarez and beat Onana with a low drive across goal.

Haaland wrapped up the scoring with a precise finish – his 28th goal of the campaign – late on.

Victory took City one point behind leaders Liverpool ahead of the two sides’ eagerly-anticipated meeting at Anfield next weekend.

Foden, also last week’s match-winner at Bournemouth, is rapidly becoming City’s star of the season but prior to his intervention it seemed Rashford could steal the headlines.

Foden told Sky Sports: "My aim is to turn up in the big games. That is what I want to do and I think this season I am proving that. I just need to keep working hard.

"I understand what it means for the fans - a derby at the Etihad. It means everything for me, to score as well is even better but it was about the win today."

Captain Walker said of Foden: "This season he has been nothing short of first class. That is the standard he sets for himself and we set for him. It is the standard he needs to keep up now.

"When he comes in on his left foot we call him the sniper because he likes to shoot. When he comes in on the left foot you know he has the calmness and composure to pick his spot.

"We lean on him. We need important players like him because they help you win games.

"He puts the work in, he is always doing extra shooting. His goals are coming in, he is reaping the rewards and he needs to keep these standards up."

Manchester City boss Guardiola, said of the forward: "Winning games is when you become a world-class player. Everyone play good but you have to win games, and he wins games. What can I say?

"He loves football. He lives to play. There are people who like to play. He loves to play football.

"He will already be a legendary player because in a short age, the games played, the minutes, the goals scored, the titles won and he is from the home and that is why the connection with the fans is unbelievable.

"He is the player of the season, with all the respect for incredible players but no-one has been so decisive for us as him this season."

Manchester United manager Ten Hag told Match of the Day: "I think it was a good performance overall, we went 1-0 up and we had our moments after it to score the second one.

"We defended very well and there were two defining moments when we nearly made a breakthrough and conceded the first goal.

"Then you are disappointed, we have to accept it and still were had the opportunties to at least get one point, but the win was also possible."

On Walker foul on Rashford: "I looked back and asked Rashy [Rashford] if there was contact, maybe soft but there was contact."

Updated: March 03, 2024, 8:10 PM