Such is the collection of stars at Manchester City that it can be easy, at times, to forget about Phil Foden.
This jewel of English football has been kept in the shadows during the past few weeks, but then there are days like this, when the 22-year-old reminds the world — and indeed his manager — of his class.
An FA Cup brace against Bristol City, mid-table in the Championship, is not going to make or break Foden’s season. Nor is it going to rank particularly highly in the career highlights of this most talented of English footballers. But for it to follow a similarly sparkling showing against Bournemouth is significant for Manchester City. Is Foden back? On this evidence, the answer is an emphatic yes.
Dropped from the side in recent weeks (he has also struggled with injury), Foden must have looked enviously at teammates. Perhaps an anger has burned in him. It certainly seemed that way on a cold night here, when he flew into tackles with a formidable fire. With help from Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne, Foden gradually picked apart Nigel Pearson’s side on an ultimately straightforward evening for Pep Guardiola’s team.
Mahrez was signed by Pearson at Leicester but he was ruthless in creating Foden’s first against his old manager. The returning De Bruyne, meanwhile, issued his own statement of intent with a superb long-range effort in the second half.
For a Championship side to have success against Manchester City usually requires either defensive perfection or a hearty dollop of luck. Or both. Sadly for Pearson’s side, they had neither in the opening few minutes.
First, the visitors strolled through their defence, with Mahrez crossing artfully for Foden to convert the opener. And then Pearson’s side was denied a penalty, just a few minutes later, after Mark Sykes had been brought down by Rico Lewis.
On first viewing, it felt like a harsh decision, and it soon led to a sense of anti-official resentment building among the home fans. They had arrived in numbers to support a side that came into this meeting without a defeat in 12 matches, to swirl their scarves and inform the travelling fans that, “just like Manchester”, their city is red.
They had also come to see young Alex Scott, a teenage midfielder. The 19-year-old is a talent of enormous potential and it was his dribbling and creativity that prompted the most excitement for the home fans in the first half. Against England’s Kalvin Phillips, making only his second start for Manchester City, he did not look out of his depth.
The Daily Telegraph in London