Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Pep Guardiola 'sorry' to Phil Foden over lack of minutes as Manchester City take charge of Champions League group

English midfielder came off the bench to score his team's second goal in the win over Dinamo Zagreb

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has apologised to Phil Foden for being "unfair" over his lack of playing time after the English midfielder came off the bench to score the second goal in a 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday.

Foden, 19, has been limited to one start, in the League Cup against Preston, so far this season as the return of Kevin De Bruyne and signing of Rodrigo has seen the England under-21 international fall further down the pecking order.

But he made the most of barely a few minutes on the field against the Croatian champions after being introduced as a substitute in stoppage time to fire home after fellow sub Raheem Sterling had opened the scoring.

"I know he deserves to play. I want to give him minutes, every time he doesn't play I am completely unfair to him, I'm sorry," Guardiola said.

"But Kevin De Bruyne is there, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, [Ilkay] Gundogan. It's what it is. I know the best way to grow up is play minutes and minutes, but he is so young.

"I don't know how many players of that age played as many minutes in the recent past he played in these last seasons with us.

"He is going to be an incredible future player for us because we count on him and we trust a lot in him."

Sterling even hopes Foden will get enough chances to shine to make a late run to be included in the England squad for next year's European Championship.

"I am buzzing for Phil and I want him in the national team," Sterling said. "If he keeps going he will be there."

However, City's local hero Foden is happy to play a patient game with such an array of midfield talent to compete with.

"You have to show the manager what you can do each day in training," said Foden. "Every young kid wants to play but you have to keep patient."

City enjoyed 71 per cent possession and had 19 attempts on goal, but had to wait until 24 minutes from time to make the breakthrough when Sterling rounded off an excellent team move.

The English champions have maximum points from their opening two Group C games with back-to-back matches against bottom-of-the-group Atalanta to come.

"It was good. We didn't concede one shot on target, with our huge possession we created enough chances to score earlier, but we were patient," added Guardiola.

"We need two more victories to qualify for the last 16 and hopefully we can make against Atalanta almost the definitive step to be there."

In the other match in Group C, Shakhtar Donetsk sealed a dramatic late win over Atalanta in Italy.

Duvan Zapata opened the scoring for Atalanta in the 28th minute before Moraes levelled for the Ukrainian champions in the 41st minute. Then, with the last kick of the game deep into injury time, Manor Solomon slotted home to earn Shakhtar their first points while keeping Atalanta on zero.

Updated: October 2, 2019 11:16 AM

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