Man City v Man United player ratings: 'World class' Foden 10, Haaland 6; Rashford 6

City come from behind to secure a 3-1 win over rivals at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola described Phil Foden as the best player in the Premier League this season after the English midfielder's starring role in the 3-1 win over rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Marcus Rashford had fired United into a shock early lead at the Etihad Stadium with an excellent finish from the edge of the area – a lead the visitors preserved until half time after Erling Haaland missed from three yards out just before the break.

But Foden ensured City ceded no ground in the title race as he blasted into the top corner to level and then produced a composed finish 10 minutes from time.

Haaland atoned for his earlier miss in added time as City moved to within one point of Liverpool ahead of a top-of-the-table clash between the two next Sunday.

"I always had the feeling he would score goals and now he is winning games. To become a world-class player at that age you have to win games," said Guardiola of Foden. "He lives to play football. That's why with 18, 19 years old he proved things but now he's more mature.

"He always scored goals but now scores goals that win games and when you do this, you reach another level as a player.

"He can play middle, right, make moments and cut inside, play in the left, scoring from the left. What can I say? He is the best player in the Premier League right now for the amount of things he does. Unbelievable."

Foden's level of consistency is making him undroppable even in a squad packed with world-class players. His current form also makes it unthinkable that he cannot be accommodated in Gareth Southgate's England side.

"We don't negotiate over that," Guardiola said when asked about Foden's defensive discipline. "The guy who doesn't do that doesn't stay in the team. He loves football, he lives for football. He is a joy and his work ethic is unbelievable."

An 11th league defeat of the season for United leaves Erik ten Hag's men 11 points adrift of the top four with 11 games remaining.

United could have few complaints after being outplayed and having just one shot on target, even if it was a spectacular one.

Rashford rounded on his critics this week as he hit back at questions of his commitment.

The England international has been a pale imitation of the forward who scored 30 goals last season for most of this campaign but showed a glimpse of the quality by smashing in off the crossbar from long range.

United's lead remained intact until half time but only thanks to a moment that will be replayed for years.

City finally cut the visitors' massed defence to shreds as Rodri's cross was headed back across goal by Foden, inviting the finishing touch from Haaland. However, he somehow turned the ball over with the goal gaping from point-blank range.

"He was disappointed, I was disappointed. I want him to score four or five goals every game like he did against Luton [in the FA Cup]," said Guardiola.

"But I don't care. He can miss this one, it is the reaction. He is sad for 10 seconds and he can miss five more and is sad for 10 seconds in his mind but after that erase it and on to the next one.

"The great, great players I met, and I've been fortunate as a player and especially a manager, they have this incredible ability to forget in an instant.

"Tennis players, golf players, basketball players, when they miss, and everyone misses, they say 'OK', smile, be positive and go for the next. That defines the great players and he did it."

The rearguard action from United was finally undone as Foden produced a strike to match Rashford's in the first half.

Ten Hag was furious that a foul had not been awarded to Rashford at the other end in the buildup, but the United player appeared go to ground too easily under contact from Kyle Walker. Rodri picked out Foden, who cut inside and arrowed a blistering shot into the top corner.

"I will not say it was a tackle from Kyle Walker," United manager Ten Hag said. "They both ran and Rashy confirmed to me there was contact and I have seen it back – was very soft. But when you are in a full-speed run and you get a little touch and then you are out of control."

A slick one-two between Foden and Julian Alvarez opened up the United defence for the decisive goal as the England international fired in his 18th of the season.

"That's my aim, to turn up in the big games," said Foden, who has now scored six goals in nine Premier League games against United. "That's what I want to do. I think this season I'm proving that.

"I understand what it means to the fans. It means everything to me. To score is even better, but it was all about the win today."

Haaland's redemption rounded off a fine afternoon for the English champions. Rodri dispossessed Sofyan Amrabat and teed up the Norwegian to curl beyond Onana for his 28th goal of the season.

Updated: March 04, 2024, 4:53 AM