Monday, May 3, 2021

Foden helps Man City reach semis


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At the fifth time of asking, Pep Guardiola has guided Manchester City to a Champions League semifinal as they saw off Borussia Dortmund and the demons of previous quarterfinal disappointments on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

Attention will now turn to a semifinal clash with Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain that will be a meeting of two projects financed by Middle Eastern investment.

HOMEGROWN HERO Phil Foden catapulted Manchester City into its first Champions League semifinal in five years under Pep Guardiola. AFP PHOTO

But for all the money invested by City’s Abu Dhabi owners, it was a product of the club’s youth academy, Phil Foden, who came up with the goods as nerves frayed for Guardiola’s men.

Foden’s 90th-minute strike in last week’s first leg against Dortmund handed City a slender 2-1 lead to take to Germany.

However, that was cancelled out by another burgeoning young English star when 17-year-old Jude Bellingham’s first Champions League goal gave Dortmund a 1-0 lead on the night and the advantage in the tie-on away goals.


As chances came and went before half-time, Guardiola would have been forgiven for having a fear of history repeating itself.

City have bowed out on away goals twice in his previous four seasons, while a combination of controversial refereeing calls and defensive mistakes cost them in three successive quarterfinal exits to Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon.

This time, though, City’s luck turned as a Foden cross was handled by Emre Can inside the box and VAR did not intervene to overturn Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande’s decision.

“This competition is nice but at the same time is so unfair because when you are out, it is judged a disaster when you play 11 months for the league, FA Cup, League Cup, for everything,” said Guardiola, whose side remain on course for the first ever quadruple in English football history.

“Today was a penalty with a hand and maybe could not be given. We were out against Tottenham (in 2019) for a hand by (Fernando) Llorente that was not given.”

A missed penalty also cost City in that tie against Tottenham, but this time Riyad Mahrez converted the spot-kick.

Foden then took centerstage with a powerful drive off the inside of the post 15 minutes from time to guarantee City’s place in the last four for just the second time in their history.

By scoring, the 20-year-old also became just the second player under 21 to score in both legs of a Champions League quarterfinal after Kylian Mbappe, who he will face in the semifinals.



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