Pep Guardiola suggested Manchester City got a reality check against Brighton and Hove Albion despite moving third with a fourth consecutive Premier League win.

Phil Foden's goal was enough for a 1-0 victory that took City back to within four points of leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.

It was another win and another clean sheet for City – their eighth shutout, a league high – but Guardiola's men did not quite hit the heights of previous performances.

The manager saw that as a positive, however, believing it was important for his side to come through a tricky test against strugglers Brighton.

"For the next games that we have in January, February, this is the best thing that could happen today," Guardiola told BBC Sport.

"There's some rumours outside the team, in the team after Stamford Bridge, [Manchester] United, and the reality is today, the game that we played today.

"It's nice to play the way we played. For 60, 70 minutes, we were so good.

"The first half was the way we have to play; the second half we struggled more because of the quality of the opponent - not because we were lazy or a lack of concentration, not these kinds of things."

City won despite missing a late penalty through Raheem Sterling, their seventh Premier League spot-kick failure since the start of last season, of which the England forward has accounted for three.

Sterling had replaced Foden, who was enthused by City's performance while acknowledging room for improvement.

"I feel like we're back to our best," Foden said. "We're definitely taking confidence from the last few results.

"Today I still thought we could have done better, but we dug deep to get the win. Overall, I'm really proud of the team and how we kept going to the final whistle. Overall, it's a great result."

It was a seventh win from seven Premier League meetings with Brighton, and City now intend to turn their focus to Crystal Palace next on Sunday.

"We know that we have a game in hand, but we just have to think of the next opponent and not think too far ahead," said Foden, now City's top scorer with eight in all competitions.

"We just want to keep going with this form and push to win the league, hopefully."

Manchester City extended their unbeaten Premier League run after Phil Foden's first-half goal secured a comfortable 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Foden found the back of the net a minute before half-time and that proved to be enough for Pep Guardiola's men to make it eight games without defeat – including four straight wins – in the top flight.

England international Foden took his tally for the season to eight goals in all competitions at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, making him City's highest-scoring player in 2020-21.

Bernardo Silva hit the crossbar and Gabriel Jesus made his return from COVID-19 as a substitute, but City were unable to add to their tally, with Raheem Sterling missing a stoppage-time penalty.

A lovely exchange between Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan led to the first major opening in the 14th minute, but the Belgium international was kept out by Robert Sanchez inside the six-yard box.

Mahrez was unable to supply the finish at the end of an intricate move around the visitors' box, before De Bruyne was again denied by Sanchez following a counter-attack from Brighton's first corner.

City made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time, with Foden controlling a pass from De Bruyne exquisitely and guiding a fine finish into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.

Guardiola's men remained comfortably on top in the second half and after Mahrez missed a one-on-one, Sanchez denied Gundogan and saw Silva's follow-up – which came after he sent the ball through Ben White's legs – crash back off the bar.

Substitute Sterling blazed his last-gasp penalty over after De Bruyne pounced on a wayward header from Lewis Dunk and was taken down by Sanchez.

But City had done enough to move up to third and four points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.

 

What does it mean? Defence still rules for City

City have done well to put together a strong run despite the absences of Jesus and Sergio Aguero, but their impressive form has been built on their defence.

They have conceded just two goals during their eight-game unbeaten run, while they have let in just seven in their past 14 outings in the top flight – four fewer than any other side since the start of October.

Brighton looked dangerous on the break at times, but Ruben Dias and John Stones secured a clean sheet for Ederson on his return from coronavirus.

Delightful De Bruyne

De Bruyne was at the heart of everything positive for City in the first half. By setting up Foden he has now assisted 14 goals in all competitions this season, a tally no Premier League player can better.

Jesus use raises questions

City finally have a fit striker in Jesus, but for some reason Guardiola decided to play him from the left after sending him on in the 67th minute. It was not until Sterling entered 15 minutes later that the Brazil international got to play through the middle.

What's next?

City host Crystal Palace on Sunday in the second of three straight Premier League home games, while Brighton are in action at Leeds United a day prior.

Phil Foden still has plenty of room for improvement, says Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Foden's long-range strike against Birmingham City in the third round of the FA Cup was his seventh goal of the season in all competitions - making him City's joint top scorer alongside Raheem Sterling.

The 20-year-old also made his England senior breakthrough this season, netting twice in the 4-0 Nations League thrashing of Iceland in November.

At club level, Foden has amassed his impressive return - he also has five assists - despite not being an automatic choice in Guardiola's first XI.

The circumstances of a coronavirus outbreak at the club is a contributing factor to an unbroken run of three successive first-team starts, although a goal at Chelsea in the Premier League and an assist for John Stones in the EFL Cup semi-final at Manchester United have made a strong case for him to remain.

"He is playing like he played always, high standards in all departments," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's match against Brighton and Hove Albion.

"He still has big margins to improve because it would be bad news if he could not improve at the age he is.

"But from day one I have been delighted, especially with his behaviour. The quality will do the rest.

City have three consecutive home games in the space of eight days on their immediate agenda - a chance to bolster their title challenge even before considering Liverpool and Manchester United are set to take points off one another this weekend.

Even though his team appear to be back to their swashbuckling best despite trying circumstances, Guardiola remains wary of the challenges at hand.

"Brighton are a joy to watch, a joy to analyse," he said, before underlining his admiration for Seagulls boss Graham Potter.

"At the same time, when you see them you are concerned about the quality. I said to the players that we will have to be in the highest standards to complete against them. They have better stats [than their league position] in all the departments except the final third.

"I am a big fan of Graham Potter. We faced him for the first time with Swansea. Everyone [in Potter's teams] plays in his position and the ball comes to them.

"They have the courage to play. I like a lot how they play and it will be a good test after this amount of games."

Considering a 13-match unbeaten run on all fronts, Guardiola added: "The momentum can arrive and disappear in one instant.

"We cannot forget the teams we beat recently especially in Premier League and Carabao Cup - two strong teams away and we did well.

"But the momentum can disappear, we have to do it again. Especially for the way we are playing."

City remain without injured defenders Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake, while Sergio Aguero will continue to self-isolate, with youngsters Cole Palmer, Eric Garcia and Adrien Bernabe, and third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson in the same situation.

Ederson, Ferran Torres and Tommy Doyle should be available to return following their own COVID-related absences.

Manchester City eased into the fourth round of the FA Cup thanks to a Bernardo Silva-inspired 3-0 win at home to Birmingham City on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola made the somewhat surprising decision to name what was essentially his strongest possible XI, and their superior quality was telling from the start as they quickly raced into a 2-0 lead.

Silva opened the scoring with a gorgeous volley and swiftly doubled City's advantage to cap off a fine move in the 15th minute, before Phil Foden effectively killed off any hopes of a Birmingham comeback before the interval.

City were less deadly in the second period as they failed to add to their lead, but it mattered little as they had no difficulty seeing out a comfortable victory.

Aitor Karanka and Birmingham will have been braced for a difficult day after seeing the line-up chosen by Guardiola, though nothing could have prepared them for the hosts' start.

Silva displayed remarkable technique to make it 1-0 as he unleashed a stunning volley just inside the box to punish a poor clearance, picking out the top-left corner.

He soon got a second with a simple close-range finish, guiding home Kevin De Bruyne's cutback after the Belgian had been well spotted by Riyad Mahrez.

City found their stride again after something of a lull, and Foden increased the lead just past the half-hour mark, rifling into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards after being picked out by Mahrez.

The hosts withdrew De Bruyne, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias at half-time, with youngsters Felix Nmecha and Taylor Harwood-Bellis entering alongside John Stones.

City remained dominant and thought they had a fourth goal just past the hour, only for VAR to confirm Mahrez had strayed offside when latching on to Foden's pass.

Silva passed up the chance to complete his hat-trick as he dragged wide when the ball fell kindly for him, and that proved to be his final opportunity as City settled for a three-goal victory.

 

What does it mean? City emphatic but Guardiola learns little

It is fair to say, Guardiola may have surprised a few by naming such a strong starting XI and it seemingly yielded the desired result as City went into half-time 3-0 to the good.

Nevertheless, Guardiola will have learnt very little about that first-half performance given his line-up was full of first-team regulars and they were facing a side struggling in a Championship relegation battle.

A few of the kids were sent on in the second half and did their chances of further opportunities no harm, though the game had become little more than a training exercise by that point.

Foden runs Birmingham ragged

There were several City stars who produced classy displays, but Foden was arguably the most enjoyable to watch. His goal was a great strike, while he had already threatened beforehand with his other two shots. The England international also made three key passes – one of those was particularly clever, as he chested down a long ball to tee up Silva for an effort that hit the side-netting.

Gabriel Jesus frustrated

City's Brazilian striker was by no means poor here – with three shots and a couple of key passes, he was actually quite bright. But he will likely be frustrated by the fact he could not get his name on the scoreboard, particularly given one of his first-half opportunities was a one-one-one situation that he spurned.

What's next?

It is back to Premier League action on Wednesday for City, who host Brighton and Hove Albion. Birmingham continue their quest to get clear of the Championship's relegation zone three days later when they go to coach Karanka's former team Middlesbrough.

Phil Foden hailed the work of "genius" Pep Guardiola and outlined his plans to continue improving after inspiring Manchester City to a 3-1 victory against Chelsea.

The England international set up Ilkay Gundogan for City's first goal in Sunday's clash and swept home Kevin De Bruyne's cross for their second just 157 seconds later.

At 20 years and 220 days, he became the second youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Chelsea since Jermain Defoe in September 2002.

De Bruyne extended the visitors' lead before half-time at Stamford Bridge but it was Foden who earned particular praise from boss Pep Guardiola after the game.

"I'm so proud," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "He never dropped one bit of his energy he can play up front in all four positions. 

"He has a sense of goal, he scored a fantastic goal. We rely on him incredibly.

"For England as well he will be a top player because he's so clever and calm. He made another great performance."

Foden has now been directly involved in 14 Premier League goals – finding the net nine times himself and setting up five more for his team-mates.

That is as many as Manchester United legend Paul Scholes managed at the same age, only strengthening comparisons made between the pair.

He completed all 16 of his passes in the opposition half against Chelsea and created four chances, which is more than any other player on the field.

However, having struggled to hold down a place in the side this term, the City academy product is refusing to get too far ahead of himself.

"I still have a lot to learn," he said. "There's quality players here. Riyad Mahrez on the bench today could easily play. 

"There's quality players at the club and I just have to keep doing well each time and improving.

"The manager's praise means a lot when you put 100 per cent into a game. It feels nice. I'm enjoying my football and I want to keep enjoying it."

Foden started on the left side of a striker-less attack for a City side depleted by a coronavirus outbreak in their camp, leaving them without six squad members for the match.

The Citizens' victory was their third in a row in the Premier League, moving them to within four points of top spot with a game in hand, but was their first over one of last season's top-six finishers this term at the fifth attempt.

City dropped off in the second half and Callum Hudson-Odoi pulled one back for Chelsea in stoppage time, though Foden was delighted with his side's overall display at Stamford Bridge.

"It gives you the confidence, coming here and getting a result how we did," he said. "It gives everyone confidence in the training room and we want to keep pushing and playing like this more often.

"The first half was brilliant. To be three goals up, it's not always easy to go into the second half three goals up and play the same way. 

"You could probably tell the second half we dropped off a bit and let them have it. Overall it was a great performance and doesn't put us in a bad position with the games in hand.

"We've played good every game but just not finished our chances. Today was a brilliant performance and much more clinical in the final third.

"We had that little break after the last game and maybe that helped us out to have the energy today. It was a great performance, everyone played top today.

"We always have great tactics going into big games like this – Pep's a genius at things like this. 

"As you can tell we played the right way and we definitely done them staying high and wide and going down the flanks. It was something we did well."

Manchester City impressively overcame the absence of key first-team players due to coronavirus as they eased to a 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. 

Pep Guardiola's side had their game at Everton postponed earlier this week due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the club, one that left them without six squad members for their first match of 2021. 

But City, who handed a league debut to goalkeeper Zack Steffen, were three up inside 34 minutes thanks to strikes from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and star of the show Kevin De Bruyne.

Callum Hudson-Odoi scored a late consolation for Chelsea but that was the only disappointment for the visitors, who made it three league wins in a row to move up to fifth in the table, within four points of top spot with a game in hand. Chelsea, meanwhile, remain down in eighth position. 

City started without a recognised striker and it was Gundogan who was in the most advanced position when turning away from Thiago Silva to fire past Edouard Mendy for the opener. 

A second goal followed for Guardiola's side 157 seconds later, Foden sweeping home De Bruyne's low cross at the front post following a poor sliding clearance from Thiago Silva in the build-up. 

De Bruyne rounded off a swift counter that he started near his own box for City's third, the playmaker converting from close range after Raheem Sterling's shot came back off the post. 

Gundogan went close to doubling his tally with a smart flick that drifted inches wide of the far post and Rodri's header was well saved by Mendy after half-time as City pushed for a fourth. 

They could not quite hold on for a sixth clean sheet in seven league outings, however, as Hudson-Odoi converted fellow substitute Kai Havertz's delivery at the back post from the final meaningful act of the match.

What does the future hold for Phil Foden?

Foden is highly rated at Manchester City, but he is struggling for regular game time.

Could Real Madrid prise the Englishman to the Santiago Bernabeu?

 

TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS EYE FODEN

LaLiga champions Real Madrid are ready to pounce for Manchester City's Phil Foden, according to the Mirror.

City sensation Foden has been struggling for regular game time under manager Pep Guardiola, starting just five of his 10 Premier League appearances this season.

Madrid have emerged as serious suitors for the 20-year-old sensation and there is a growing belief that he could be prised to the Spanish capital.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are considering a move for Borussia Dortmund winger Julian Brandt, reports The Athletic. Out of favour at Dortmund this season, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is reportedly keen to reinforce his struggling side in January.

Manchester United could send Donny van de Beek to Inter on loan as they look to bring in Christian Eriksen from the Serie A side, claims Calciomercato. Eriksen is set to leave Inter in January and the Danish midfielder has been linked to Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

- As question marks grow over Samir Handanovic, Calciomercato says Inter are considering Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso as a successor to the long-serving Nerazzurri star.

Madrid are confident of re-signing veteran star Luka Modric, according to Fabrizio Romano. It comes as Madrid still try to negotiate a new contract with captain and soon-to-be free agent Sergio Ramos, who has been linked to the likes of Juventus, PSG, United and City. Modric has previously been a target for Inter and Milan.

Luka Jovic would not be against a return to Eintracht Frankfurt but the out-of-favour Madrid forward is eyeing Milan, reports Calciomercato.

Pep Guardiola has hailed Phil Foden as one of the most "incredible" players he has seen at his age and said he can go to another level after learning to "slow down."

Midfielder Foden has scored five goals and provided four assists in 17 appearances for City this season.

The 20-year-old England international scored City's third goal with a sublime finish and put one on a plate for Aymeric Laporte in a 4-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win at Arsenal on Tuesday.

Foden found the back of the net eight times and set up nine goals last season, so he is well on course to improve on those tallies ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Newcastle United.

City boss Guardiola rates Foden as one of the most gifted players he has set eyes on around his age group and commended his desire to improve, but said he will only reach his peak with more experience under his belt.

The Spaniard said: "They [younger players] have incredible energy, but in the final decision, final pass, they have to slow down. The energy for a guy of that age, he wants to win the world, beat the world and be important.

"It's normal, but you need experience to be more calm. He plays football in the same rhythm, football must be need played in different rhythms: sometimes you have to walk, sometimes you have no rhythm, sometimes you have to change the rhythm.

"He has to understand this, but it is experience, it's not saying you have to do it [now], it's time. He has incredible skills and many other things and we will be incredibly patient, it's not easy for a young player to rise as he has in a club like this, playing important games and with the national team.

"There will be a moment when he slows down, it's a normal process for all young players. You just stick have to stick with them and be patient.

"Every time with patience and a desire to be a better player you will get it, there's no doubt. I know we can trust and rely on him all the time."

Guardiola is confident Foden has the ability to score many more goals for City.

Asked how many he is capable of scoring, he said: "A lot. The signs are good. In front of the keeper he has this composure. He has something that the other ones don't have.

"He just has to keep this incredible strength he has and to improve. A player of 28, 29, 30 years old also has margin to improve, so imagine a guy of 20 years old like Phil. The important thing is his desire and commitment and he is a joy to watch in the training sessions and in the games he will improve."

Guardiola added: "He is one of the more incredible players I have seen at that age, he is so good. I was in Barcelona, I was in Bayern Munich and yes there were more experienced players, but I saw in the academy and there were incredible players at that age.

"They had long careers and they had the mentality that Phil has and that's the most important thing."

City will be without Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker when they host Newcastle after they tested positive for coronavirus.

Manchester City booked an EFL Cup semi-final spot and piled more pressure on Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta with a resounding 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday. 

Arteta, who was Pep Guardiola's assistant at City before taking charge of the Gunners a year ago, has faced questions over his future after a dismal start to the season has left his side languishing in 15th in the Premier League. 

He did not find any respite against his former club, with City – who have won the competition in each of the last three seasons – easing through to the last four after second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte. 

Alexandre Lacazette had earlier given the hosts hope of ending a run of three straight home defeats to City when he cancelled out Gabriel Jesus' early opener, but that proved to be a rare moment of joy in yet another turgid defeat for the beleaguered north London club.

The visitors started in ruthless fashion, taking the lead after just 125 seconds when Jesus headed Oleksandr Zinchenko's left-wing cross past Runar Alex Runarsson inside the six-yard box, ending a goal drought of 609 minutes for the Brazilian.

Laporte headed wide from a corner before the Gunners pulled level with their first effort on target in the 31st minute, Lacazette heading home Gabriel Martinelli's cross from six yards out.

City should have restored their lead before the interval, but Runarsson raced off his line to deny Jesus after a smart move on the edge of the penalty area involving Foden.

The Arsenal goalkeeper was entirely at fault for City's second nine minutes after the interval, though, allowing Mahrez's free-kick from the edge of the area to squirm through his tepid grasp.

City added a third five minutes later when Foden latched onto Fernandinho's pass and lofted a delightful finish over Runarsson, although the goal would have been disallowed if VAR had been in use with replays clearly showing the midfielder was offside. 

The holders added gloss to an 18th straight victory in the competition in the 73rd minute, Laporte stealing in at the back post to head home Foden's inviting cross. 

Pep Guardiola has hinted there is a deep-lying role at Manchester City waiting for Phil Foden once he is ready to step back from terrorising defences as a forward.

At the age of 20, Foden is building on the raw potential that was obvious to Guardiola from the outset of his reign as manager.

The City boss was quick to usher Foden into his first-team squad, and at the age of 16 the Stockport-born player was selected as a substitute for a Champions League clash with Celtic in December 2016.

He saw no action that day but has gradually become an influential player, assuming greater responsibility this season following the departure of David Silva.

On Wednesday, Foden may be asked to wreak havoc against Marseille as City attempt to secure a fifth win from six games in this season's Champions League group stage.

They can reach 16 points, which would match the best return of any English club in the group stage - previously achieved by Arsenal on their way to the final in 2005-06, by eventual winners Manchester United two years later, and by a Tottenham side that narrowly lost to Juventus in the next round in 2017-18.

Guardiola sees Foden as both a work in progress and a player who can have a dazzling influence already.

"Phil is young but he has specific energy and specific quality," Guardiola said.

"Of course, he has to improve in the final decision in the 18-yard box, he has to be more patient in that moment, but that's part of his game."

Guardiola has no concerns over Foden's evolving contribution to the City team and is savouring watching him tease and torment opposition defences.

"In this moment I see him playing up front because of his dynamic sense in front of goal and he helps us with first pressure," Guardiola said.

"When he is 24, 25, I think he will be able to play more defensive positions. Now he can play both wingers, behind strikers and as a striker.

"As a manager, having a player like this who can play several positions is fundamental."

After Marseille comes the derby against Manchester United on Saturday, but for now City's focus is on building up a head of steam in the Champions League, the competition they long to win.

Foden's Champions League numbers make for fascinating reading and help to provide an indication of how he is growing into City's set-up.

He has played 361 minutes already in this season's competition, starting four games and appearing once as a substitute, while across the past two campaigns he collected just 374 minutes in total.

Although Guardiola sees him as a forward player, from a number of statistical perspectives Foden's influence appears to have altered in this campaign.

Foden created six goal opportunities defined by Opta as 'big chances' last season, in only 254 minutes on the pitch, while this term he has forged just one such opening.

In the 2018-19 season he had seven shots at goal in 120 minutes on the pitch, while this time around he has registered nine attempts.

One area where he has stepped up his numbers is in successful passes ending in the final third, with 90 in the Champions League this season a step in the right direction after 51 in 2019-20.

Perhaps this year's most telling Champions League figure, however, is one that might go largely unnoticed but that Guardiola will delight in, with Foden winning possession eight times in the final third of the pitch.

That puts him top of all players involved in the group stage heading into the final round of games and underlines his value to City.

"He's an incredibly important player for us," Guardiola said. "He knows it and the team knows it."

Gareth Southgate will not set strict boundaries when it comes to team discipline but the England boss expects his players to be "reliable" and "good ambassadors".

Harry Maguire, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood have all been involved in high-profile incidents in recent months that led to them being dropped from Three Lions duty. 

A breach of coronavirus isolation rules while in Iceland proved costly for Manchester City playmaker Foden and Manchester United forward Greenwood in September. 

The pair appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of the women they were said to be socialising with at England's team hotel in Iceland, a meeting then forbidden under the country's strict rules in response to COVID-19.

Both were sent home and missed a subsequent game against Denmark, although Foden was recalled for England's matches against Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland last month. 

Maguire was also in the headlines for the wrong reasons in August after he was arrested while on holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos.

The 27-year-old – who was originally selected, then dropped from the October internationals – is appealing a suspended prison sentence after he was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery.

While Southgate is not prepared to lay down strict rules for his players, he does expect them to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. 

"I would think every club is going to want to minimise the issues," he told a media conference. 

"On a broader level, I mentioned the responsibilities of being an England player. That shows the change of landscape for any players involved with us. 

"We want the country to connect with the team, be proud of the team and that they are good ambassadors for everything we are trying to do. 

"Reliability is part of our criteria. I'm not going to say this is the line, and anyone who crosses it we don't consider, but we're always observing how professional they are and how they will be if they are away with us for 35-40 days. All of that has to come into our thinking."

Southgate was speaking after England were drawn against Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino in Group I for 2022 World Cup qualifying. 

That means a meeting with Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who has started the season in scintillating form for Bayern Munich.

After 55 goals across all competitions last term for the Bundesliga and Champions League winners, Lewandowski has already plundered 15 goals this campaign. 

Southgate is an admirer of the 32-year-old and says his defenders will relish the opportunity to try and shackle one of the world's best strikers. 

"He's an incredible finisher," Southgate added. "I love the way he plays. He's got an excellent all-round game, protecting the ball, bringing others into play. All different types of finishes. 

"He's a huge talisman for Poland. It's a great challenge for our defenders to come up against centre-forwards like that.

"In the modern game, there are not so many number nines, but Lewandowski is absolutely in that mould."

Pep Guardiola will take charge of his 700th game when Manchester City host Fulham on Saturday and he hopes to double that tally before he retires.

The Spaniard's glittering career in management has seen him ply his trade in three countries, winning top-flight titles in Spain, Germany and England.

His pursuit of a third Premier League crown continues with the visit of Fulham, which will also mark his 250th match at the City helm.

The hosts will be without Sergio Aguero (knee) against a team they have beaten nine times in a row by an aggregate score of 27-3.

Guardiola has enjoyed that kind of dominance over many opponents in a coaching career that began with Barcelona B in 2007, and he hopes there is still a long way to go yet.

"Seven hundred games," said the 49-year-old when asked about the milestone. "I will do 700 more then retire. I never expected it.

"It's good to have 700 games with few defeats in these games, for all the players and staff we had in Barca B, first team, Bayern [Munich] and here.

"It's a great number, with all the people we made incredible things together and hopefully we can do more in the future."

In his 699 matches to date, Guardiola has tasted victory 506 times and lost just 82 of those, leaving him with a stunning win percentage of 72.4.

When City last met Fulham in the league in March 2019 it ended 2-0 to Guardiola's men, which is the most common scoreline in his career, occurring 82 times.

Incredibly, his CV boasts four seasons in which his team has scored 100 goals or more, having managed it twice apiece with Barcelona and City.

Guardiola's list of honours includes three titles in LaLiga and the Bundesliga, and two in the Premier League. He won two Champions Leagues at Camp Nou, but has not lifted that trophy since.

Another man looking to enjoy a landmark outing this weekend is Phil Foden, who is primed to make his 50th Premier League appearance.

Guardiola expects to see the 20-year-old go from strength to strength at the Etihad Stadium, describing the England star as "a dream come true for managers".

"We are more than delighted to have him for the academy, the message he can give," he said.

"If you have the skills and especially passion. I love his passion, the only thing in his mind is to be a better player for himself, his club, his national country.

"He is a dream come true for managers. Normally when you become older he loses it, but the first thing he is looking for in training is the ball to play with his mates.

"The first achievement is 50 games, he will play much much more in the future. Hopefully he can have the passion to improve but knowing him it will happen."

Pep Guardiola lavished praise on Phil Foden's performance in Manchester City's 0-0 Champions League draw at Porto.

City were frustrated by their dogged hosts at Estadio do Dragao, with Gabriel Jesus having a goal ruled out for a VAR offside against Joao Cancelo 10 minutes from time.

Nevertheless, the stalemate saw the Premier League side secure top spot in Group C with a game to spare.

Foden has started four successive Champions League matches, although the England midfielder has been a substitute for City's past five domestic outings.

Speaking to BT Sport, Guardiola seemed to acknowledge the growing clamour for the 20-year-old to become a permanent fixture in his first XI, irrespective of the opponents or competition.

"What a player, what a player," he said when asked about Foden's display.

"His intensity and he always creates things. He was so good, I'm delighted with his performance."

Foden made two key passes and his four completed crosses accounted for half of City's total as they chipped away at a resolute Porto backline.

He won six out of eight duels and drew three fouls – more than any other City player during a combative contest – although none of his team-mates lost possession more often than Foden (23 times).

After the 5-0 weekend win over Burnley, Guardiola told his players they would be making a "mistake" if they felt their absence from his line-ups was solely down to rotation.

However, he told a post-match news conference that he was keen for a number of his squad to find their "rhythm" after being in and out of the side.

"I think a few players need rhythm, like Bernardo [Silva], Oleks [Zinchenko], Fernandinho and Joao," he said.

"I wanted to give them minutes for the rhythm. I have to know that I can trust the players. Now it is time to focus on the Premier League."

Guardiola added: "We played with huge personality, with courage. It's not easy with eight [defensive] players in the box. They are so strong with the full-backs, they are so fast.

"Even with that, we created enough chances to win. This is the most important thing."

City's 18 shots were the most they have ever had in a game Champions League without finding the net.

England manager Gareth Southgate is happy to have a selection headache as he prepares for Euro 2020 next year, after the Three Lions' youngsters starred against Iceland.

Records tumbled at Wembley in Wednesday's Nations League encounter, with England winning 4-0.

Declan Rice opened his international account, with Mason Mount doubling England's tally before Phil Foden – who had created the opener – scored his first goals for his country to complete the rout.

The only players aged 30 or older in England's starting XI were Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, Southgate starting four players – Foden, Mount, Rice and Bukayo Saka – aged 21 or younger; the first time the Three Lions have done so in a competitive match since November 1959.

His faith was repaid, with all of them turning in impressive displays as England dominated from start to finish, controlling 78.3 per cent of the possession, while Jack Grealish was again in superb form from a free role on the left flank.

Grealish, 25, won six fouls, meaning he has drawn 21 in total since his debut for England in September, more than any other player in that time.

Rice, meanwhile, is the first West Ham player to score for England since Matthew Upson against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, while the midfielder is also the second-youngest Hammer – after Joe Cole – to net for the Three Lions.

Two of Mount's three goals this season have come for his country, and with Foden's late double, three players aged 21 or under netted in the same match for England for the first time since February 1883 against Ireland, when William Cobbold, Oliver Whateley and Frank Pawson found the net.

Foden is the youngest player in the history of the England national team to score more than once in a match at Wembley.

He also became the youngest player to score and assist in a match for England since Marcus Rashford in September 2017.

With Southgate's 3-4-3 system finally clicking against Iceland, the debate will now turn to whether it is the formation the England manager should use heading into the Euros.

Jadon Sancho came on from the bench, as did Tammy Abraham, while in-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin was an unused substitute.

Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford were missing altogether, and with Mount, Grealish and Foden all looking sharp, Southgate has a plethora of attacking options to choose from, without factoring in the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Maddison.

However, it is a headache he is happy to deal with.

Southgate told Sky Sports: "I think over the last few days their talent has been outstanding. It was a very difficult game, all the players were hearing messages that this is meaningless and there was nothing to play for but they did play for it, there were big opportunities for young players but also for some older players.

"We're still trying to build and improve all the time. There was lovely football and it was good to watch and it was good for the young ones to get the goals – very special for them.

"The squad that we've had over the last three months is going to peak in the next three to five years and they'll get a lot more club experience and international experience. We'll invest the time in them. There are some very good senior professionals as well.

"We are still working on the balance of players for the system. Our attacking play was very, very good. If it's a headache about having good players in the side then that's a good one to have."

One down side for England was captain Harry Kane failing to score from five attempts – none of which hit the target.

Wednesday is the only day of the week Kane is yet to score on for England, the Tottenham star having attempted 12 shots in three such games, but failing to land a single one on goal.

Phil Foden opened his England account with a double as Gareth Southgate's side ended their Nations League campaign on a high with a 4-0 victory over 10-man Iceland.

Defeat to Belgium on Sunday had ensured Wednesday's Group A2 meeting at Wembley was a dead rubber, but England's youthful team nevertheless turned in an impressive display.

Making his first competitive England appearance since breaking coronavirus protocol after a victory over Iceland in September, Foden marked his return in style, setting up Declan Rice's opener before adding further gloss to a routine win with a superbly taken brace.

Mason Mount had doubled England's tally, with Birkir Mar Saevarsson's red card for a second bookable offence all but ending any comeback hopes for outgoing Iceland coach Erik Hamren.

For differing reasons, Jack Grealish and Foden were the big stories heading into the game and the two playmakers combined for England's 20th-minute opener.

Rice was the benefactor, heading in his maiden England goal from Foden's free-kick, which was won by Grealish, who moments later teed up Bukayo Saka.

The Arsenal youngster failed to beat Ogmundur Kristinsson, but Mount made no such mistake with England's next chance, coolly prodding in after latching onto Harry Kane's knockdown.

Harry Maguire's marauding run forward resulted in a fine pass through for Foden, whose shot was charged down by Kristinsson, who then denied the midfielder again before Kane curled wide.

Iceland's hopes seemed to have been extinguished nine minutes into the second half – Saevarsson receiving a second yellow for pulling back Saka.

Kari Arnason might have changed that, yet he headed wide from Ari Freyr Skulason's corner.

Yet England had the third goal their dominance deserved in the 80th minute when Foden swept home from Jadon Sancho's cutback.

The 20-year-old Foden was not done there, however, and capped off a fine individual display with a thumping strike into the bottom-right corner.

What does it mean? Southgate's system finally clicks

England have now remained unbeaten in their final game of a calendar year in each of the last seven years (W5 D2), since a 1-0 defeat to Germany in 2013. And though it has been a frustrating Nations League campaign, Southgate’s 3-4-3 formation clicked in style on Wednesday.

The trick now will be if Southgate can find a winning formula at the back to provide the platform for the likes of Grealish, Foden and England's other young guns to do the damage.

The kids are all right

England had four players aged 21 or younger – Saka, Foden, Rice and Mount – in the starting XI for a competitive international for the first time since November 1959 against Northern Ireland, and the youngsters did not let Southgate down.

Foden – the youngest player to score twice in the same match for the national team at Wembley – was the pick of the bunch, and his strikes meant England had three players aged 21 or younger score in the same match for the first time since February 1883.

Hamren's Iceland tenure ends with a whimper

Hamren has taken the decision to step down after this match and Iceland's new coach will face something of a rebuild.

Having taken over after the 2018 World Cup, Hamren has failed to lead Iceland to a third successive major tournament and, on Wednesday, his team mustered just two attempts, failing to test Jordan Pickford at all, and they had only 21.7 per cent of possession.

What's next?

Both of these sides will next be in action during the March international break, with World Cup 2022 qualifying set to start.

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