Still opponents rather than teammates, Phil Foden showed Erling Haaland there’s already a 20-year-old excelling at Manchester City.
Foden netted City’s 90th-minute goal to clinch a 2-1 victory over Haaland’s Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday and even before that it was the local lad repeatedly flaunting his skills on the ball to bamboozle the visitors.
Haaland, who is being touted as a potential replacement for Sergio Aguero at City next season, didn’t have the best of auditions to live up to a valuation far exceeding $100 million. European football’s hottest young talent struggled to make an impact, beyond setting up an equalizer on the turn for captain Marco Reus to cancel out Kevin De Bruyne’s first-half strike.
And it was Foden who played an integral part in that City opener that followed Emre Can giving the ball away and De Bruyne leading the breakaway. Foden squared to Riyad Mahrez, who kept the ball in play at the far post before pulling it back for De Bruyne to clip into the net in the 19th minute.
And with City entering the 90th minute facing going to Germany next week locked at 1-1, De Bruyne’s vision picked apart the Dortmund defense again.
I try to look up before I get the ball so I try to get a picture of what is happening, the Belgian midfielder said. I could see Phil and Gundo (Ilkay Gundogan) running to the post and tried to chip it.
It succeeded, as De Bruyne sent a perfectly weighted ball floating over the Dortmund defense. Gundogan brought down the cross at the far post and laid the ball off for Foden to sweep into the net.
While Foden was the match-winner, Haaland still took the opportunity to chat with his young counterpart with mouths covered on the freezing Etihad pitch. And the Norwegian had one final duty before heading into the dressing room, improbably being asked by one of referee Ovidiu Haegan’s assistants to sign red and yellow cards.
Maybe hes a fan of Haaland, City manager Pep Guardiola quipped.
Haegan rightly denied City midfielder Rodri a penalty in the first half before enraging Dortmund by denying Jude Bellingham an equalizer before halftime.
Ederson was trying to control a back pass on the edge of the penalty area but gave the ball away and Bellignham nipped in to score. But Bellingham was penalized for fouling Ederson despite being kicked first and the whistle had already gone before the 17-year-old Englishman put the ball in the net.
It contributed to Dortmund heading into the second leg trailing, albeit with a valuable away goal secured by Reus netting in the Champions League for the first time since October 2018. Winning the Champions League for the first time since 1997 might be the only way for Dortmund to return to the competition as it sits in fifth place in the Bundeslgia seven points from fourth.
City by contrast is running away with the Premier League, building a 14-point lead in its quest for a third title in four seasons to dethrone struggling Liverpool. While City remains on track for a quadruple, Liverpool lost 3-1 at Real Madrid in the nights other first leg.