The 19-year-old man of the match strolled through the Wembley mixed zone on Sunday evening wearing a beaming grin along with his winners' medal, only to receive one more instruction from his manager.

"Phil, you must!" said Pep Guardiola, gesturing towards the gaggle of waiting journalists, eagerly wanting a piece of Phil Foden.

But no sooner had he headed towards the microphones, the midfielder was told in no uncertain terms it was time to go right now as the team bus was ready to leave.

It meant Manchester City's coach driver had done something largely beyond Aston Villa for the duration of Sunday's EFL Cup final by stopping Foden from doing whatever he wanted. 

City continued their recent dominance of the competition with a third successive triumph thanks to first-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri, before Mbwana Samatta pulled one back in the 41st minute for a valiant Villa.

It proved a day to savour for City's old guard. Aguero, Fernandinho and David Silva now have five winners' medals apiece from English football's mid-season final.

Club record goalscorer Aguero settled nerves after a scrappy start with a typically astute piece of poaching. Ever the man for the big occasion, the Argentina star has been directly involved in eight goals across 10 Wembley appearances, while Villa will be sick of the sight of a man boasting 10 strikes in his past six outings against them.

Within the context of Aymeric Laporte's injury struggles this season, Fernandinho has shifted seamlessly from defensive midfield lynchpin to become City's most reliable option at centre-back.

The 35-year-old typically provides an expert combination of aggression and poise while his rotating cast of partners cough up goal-causing mistakes.

Fernandinho's probing, purposeful passing from deep to get Guardiola's men back on the front foot early in the second half after John Stones' forlorn grapple with gravity in the build up to Samatta's powerful header ensured both sides of that equation were clearly evident at the national stadium.

Aguero and Fernandinho are under contract for 2021-22 but the current campaign amounts to a victory lap for the mercurial Silva, who will end a glorious decade in Manchester over the next three months.

Guardiola has frequently stated his plan for the club captain to symbolically pass the torch to Foden, who has waited diligently in the wings since his 2017 debut as the understudy to City's twinkling left-footed magician.

The realities of elite sport and the passage of time mean succession planning is rarely completely smooth, however, and the match against Villa often felt like Foden ripping the baton from his mentor's hand and tearing off on a journey mapped out in boyhood dreams.

Across 90 minutes in which Villa's refusal to go quietly was the main factor in City lacking the relentless rhythm that defines their best work, Foden was their most reliable outlet.

No-one else in their Hacienda-inspired black shirts led the dance as the teenager did, unquestionably the player most in tune with Guardiola's "take the ball, pass the ball" mantra when in opposition territory.

Foden completed 90 per cent of his 41 passes in the Villa half, set against 87.5 per cent of 32 from Silva, who he also outstripped in overall touches (71 to 57) and tenacity – (7/10 duels won to 3/8).

All the unmistakable Silva visuals remain – gliding into pockets of space in front of defenders and receiving the ball with eloquent mischief, all while shuffling easily as if in his favourite pair of carpet slippers.

And yet, each refined movement feels the tiniest split-second slower. Opponents can now generally close out those shafts of light where the 34-year-old used to thread his most delightful passes.

Foden became the player most familiar with the whites of Aston Villa eyes, daring them not to blink. One particularly velvety touch on the end of Oleksandr Zinchenko's raking 29th-minute pass almost brought a goal to savour.

Guardiola talked up the youngster's goal threat afterwards and no City player could match his five attempts on the day. Although not noted for his aerial ability, Foden's 20th-minute knockdown for Aguero means he now has seven assists to go with a pair of goals in 10 competitive starts in 2019-20.

Even without those impressive numbers, the evidence presented to 82,149 spectators was enough. On a gala day for City's most influential players of the past 10 years, Foden made a statement of intent for the decade to come.

UEFA's decision to hit Manchester City with a two-season ban from European football for Financial Fair Play breaches is likely to send shockwaves across elite club football.

But what next for the reigning Premier League champions at the eye of the storm?

Here, we have a look at what Friday's judgement means for City, Pep Guardiola and his Etihad Stadium stars.

 

Appeal could see City feature in next season's Champions League

City were swift in their response to UEFA's punishment, announcing their intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Irrespective of whether City are successful in their attempts to overturn the sanctions or not, any CAS case is likely to run for months, meaning the appeal could still be ongoing when next season's Champions League rolls around.

However, even if this means City kick the can down the road and line up in Europe's top competition in 2020-21, there is little doubt the spectre of UEFA coming down hard on the club does little for long-term planning.

Guardiola's future

Guardiola is under contract at City until the end of 2020-21 and, throughout the course of an uneven campaign this time around, has frequently hinted he could be open to a longer stay.

The prospect of being denied annual shots at the competition that has eluded him since a second win with Barcelona in 2010-11 might change that, while UEFA landed their bombshell during the same week rumours linking Guardiola to Juventus surfaced once more.

The 49-year-old might find it harder than most managers to separate himself emotionally from boardroom events, given his close friend Ferran Soriano – a man instrumental in bringing him to Manchester – is City's chief executive officer and mastermind of their commercial strategy. Will his response be motivated more by loyalty or disappointment?

Summer rebuild on ice?

Despite intermittently hitting their brilliant best, City's laboured pursuit of Liverpool this season has suggested the end of a cycle for a gifted squad that has swept all before them domestically.

At least one centre-back, a left-back, a winger and possible even another central attacker could all have been on the agenda, but a prospective Champions League ban must now alter City's transfer plans.

Leroy Sane's long-rumoured exit now appears even more likely, while Europe's elite might even chance their arm with enquiries over the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.

Time for the Foden generation

City will now be on the outside looking in as a cluster of Europe's elite pursue their former academy product Jadon Sancho, but the immediate prospects for those currently in residence at the Etihad Campus look to have suddenly improved.

Guardiola has long earmarked 2020-21 as the campaign where Phil Foden will come to long-awaited prominence, given David Silva is bringing down the curtain on a glorious decade in Manchester when this season concludes.

Centre-back reinforcement can also come from within in the form of Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, while the prodigiously gifted Jayden Braaf might find some of his reported disciplinary problems within the academy system can now be met with a blind eye.

Domestic dominance 2.0

City will cede the Premier League to a relentless Liverpool but their 2018-19 treble might be chased again with renewed vigour next term.

The first-team squad might lose some of its depth of quality in these new circumstances, but a talent pool such as City's only being required to compete on a weekend-to-weekend basis represents a problem for those Premier League rivals being extended at home and abroad.

City's Champions League relationship broken beyond repair

City's fanbase have long nursed an uneasy relationship with the Champions League and the detente Guardiola clearly desires is now nothing other than a pipe dream.

Expect the booing of the competition anthem to reach a seething boiling point when Real Madrid visit the Etihad Stadium next month.

In a tournament where they have frequently flattered to deceive, City could do worse than to harness a siege mentality in what Guardiola can sell to his players as a now-or-never tilt for glory.

European heavyweights thumbing through their accounts

UEFA's FFP system is safe for now, but the forthcoming CAS appeal could become a long and torrid process.

City are sure to present a thorough case, which could end up casting a light on the business operations of other major clubs.

All of European football's major players will be watching on with unswerving interest and suspense.

Pep Guardiola warned Barcelona they would need time to readjust when Lionel Messi leaves the club, after Real Madrid's struggles following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit.

Ronaldo left Madrid for Juventus in July 2018 and the Spanish giants battled that season, winning only the Club World Cup and seeing three different coaches at the helm, including the return of Zinedine Zidane.

Manchester City manager Guardiola expects his former club Barca to endure a similar problem when Messi, another all-time great, departs Camp Nou.

"It is inevitable, these players are so transcendent," he told Post United in an interview conducted by Spanish YouTuber DjMariio, via Marca.

"When Messi leaves Barca it will take time to readjust. It is inevitable.

"They score 40-50 goals per season."

Guardiola has continued to enjoy coaching success since leaving Barcelona, a spell at Bayern Munich preceding his move to Manchester.

Already a two-time Premier League winner, Guardiola has another young star in his squad in highly rated midfielder Phil Foden.

Foden has only made two Premier League starts this season, but Guardiola talked up the 19-year-old's talent.

"He will be a bomb," he said.

"There are no clauses here, you have it raw, you have to negotiate with me."

Pep Guardiola is heartened by the progress of Manchester City's youngsters this season but knows there is no guarantee of a golden generation, such as the one he oversaw at Barcelona a decade ago or Manchester United's 'Class of '92'.

England Under-21 midfielder Phil Foden has ticked past 50 career appearances for City and scored his 10th goal for the club in last weekend's 4-1 FA Cup win over Port Vale, when Taylor Harwood-Bellis was also on target for the first time in senior football.

Harwood-Bellis' fellow teenage centre-back Eric Garcia was accomplished as he started the recent home wins over Sheffield United and Everton as part of a back three, while Tommy Doyle – who counts City greats Glyn Pardoe and the late Mike Doyle as his grandfathers – made his full debut against Southampton in the EFL Cup in October.

Footage of Doyle and Harwood-Bellis celebrating City's 3-1 first-leg win over Manchester United in the semi-finals of that competition from the away end at Old Trafford went viral this week.

Guardiola saw and enjoyed the clip but was hesitant when asked to assess the chances of City's breakthrough stars becoming household names – citing the pressures they must navigate to establish themselves at an elite club.

"I don't know. I would like to answer and say 'yes' but I don't know. To figure out if young players will become incredibly top players for the future, I don’t know," he said, speaking ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to Aston Villa.

"This is a club that is so demanding, you have to win games. Sometimes you win four titles and it's not enough

"Four titles last season is not enough; we didn’t win the Champions League. That is the reality.

"Sometimes they compete against incredible central defenders and, for Tommy Doyle, incredible midfielders.

"For Phil Foden, it is an incredible reality. He is an exceptional player and sometimes he doesn't play the minutes he should play because he competes with what happened at Old Trafford. All the midfield players played and they played incredibly well.

"I am a big, big fan who respects the process with the young guys. But we have a tendency in all the countries – here as well – that they make the two games and already they will be the new [Wayne] Rooney or the new George Best or will be the new David Beckham."

As Foden and his contemporaries continue the early steps of their journey at City, greats of the modern era they will hope to emulate are moving on.

David Silva will depart at the end of this season, while Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero's deals expire in June 2021.

Former captain Vincent Kompany bade an emotional farewell after completing last term's unprecedented domestic treble, following the exits of Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta 12 and 24 months earlier respectively.

"We cannot deny how important all these names you name have been for this club," Guardiola said, with Kompany set to be honoured at a Football Writers' Association tribute night in London on Sunday.

"Vinny is unique, Sergio will be unique, David – these type of players are incredible. I think the club, they have the duty and the obligation to find the best replacement for all of them, as quick as possible and anticipate it.

"We have to try and find them or build them from here – it is our obligation as a club."

As he negotiates this changing of the guard at the Etihad, Guardiola again reiterated his belief that Silva's replacement will be a young man built from within.

"David is going to leave this season and we are not going to buy any player in his position because we have Phil," he added.

"Maybe this season Phil will have more minutes, or maybe less. I don't know. We trust Phil.

"If we didn't believe in him we might go to the market to replace David, but we have Phil."

Pep Guardiola says he is not in the business of giving "presents" to Manchester City's academy stars and believes Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Phil Foden can have an impact at first-team level.

Harwood-Bellis, 17, and Foden, 19, started and scored in a 4-1 FA Cup win against Port Vale on Saturday, while 18-year-old Tommy Doyle appeared as a substitute.

Foden is a more established name than his teenage team-mates, having started in the Premier League, but manager Guardiola urged his young players to keep working hard for their chances.

"Of course, it is important [to have local young players] with Taylor and Phil - and Tommy," Guardiola said. "[Doyle] played a month ago in the Carabao Cup and played a few minutes today.

"It's not because they are English - we believe they can do it because they are good players. We don't give presents. They have to earn [it] for themselves.

"In these games, we have space for everyone. But from what we have seen so far, they have the quality to help.

"Young players have to not talk too much, to train, to work and to listen and learn and learn and learn. They have to learn.

"The minutes are good for their development, and then the future is in their hands. The privilege for them has to be in this club and playing minutes with this team."

City invited Vale into their dressing room post-match, and Guardiola added: "It was a pleasure. I saw the manager and the sporting director.

"It's nice for us to host these clubs and for their players to realise we are the same. We play at a different level but dreams are dreams."

Port Vale's Tom Pope had the FA Cup impact he promised before holders Manchester City ran out 4-1 winners at the Etihad Stadium.

Pope, whose disparaging Twitter post about City defender John Stones came to light following the third-round draw, nodded in a superb 35th-minute equaliser after Oleksandr Zinchenko's deflected opener.

However, Sergio Aguero ensured the hosts went in ahead at half-time before youngsters Taylor Harwood-Bellis – inadvertently scoring his first senior goal after Stones thought he had City's third – and Phil Foden sealed the Premier League champions' progress.

Nathan Smith scrambled an eighth-minute effort from Foden out of the goalmouth but fellow Vale centre-back Leon Legge was not so effective with his own last-ditch attempt – turning Zinchenko's speculative 20th-minute strike past Scott Brown.

David Silva inexplicably scuffed Ilkay Gundogan's low cross into the turf and against the crossbar with the goal at his mercy and City would rue that miss.

On a rare Vale attack, David Amoo raided down the right and Pope found space off the back of Harwood-Bellis to dispatch a fine header.

Another player who would certainly fall under Pope's self-applied label of "bagsman" is Aguero, and City's all-time record goalscorer restored his team's lead after Foden stayed just onside to steer Gundogan's chipped pass across goal.

Brown made superb early second-half saves to deny Bernardo Silva and Foden, yet City had the breathing space they desired before the hour.

Stones looked to have levelled the personal duel with Pope – insofar as there was one – but a VAR check showed his close-range shot clipped Harwood-Bellis on the line.

A wretched clearance from Stones, half-blocked by Pope, meant Vale substitute Tom Conlon almost reduced the deficit with a diving header, while David Silva's frustrating outing in front of goal continued as he dragged wide.

But Foden got the goal his efforts deserved from a drilled Angelino cross, allowing attentions to turn towards a blockbuster midweek derby.

What does it mean? Guardiola's Cup kings march on

Pep Guardiola selected a team with one eye on the forthcoming first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester United and City were far from their fluent best. Still, City have now prevailed in 22 of their past 23 domestic cup ties, with a 2018 FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Wigan Athletic the only blot in the past three seasons.

Pope walks the walk

Vale's veteran striker arguably set himself up for a fall seven months before this tie with a tweet claiming he would "get 40 a season" playing against Stones. Pope's bravado was duly unearthed after the draw and, although the visitors' goal had nothing to do with any short-comings on Stones' part, he relished backing up his bold words.

City understudies come up short

Angelino and Claudio Bravo should probably thank Pope for targeting Stones on social media, because their parts in the goal might be overlooked. The left-back's lacklustre efforts when it came to stopping Amoo's cross left City in trouble. It was a fine finish but, not for the first time in his City career, Bravo appeared awfully flat footed, meaning his chances of pulling off the save were limited to begin with.

What's next

City resume their other domestic cup defence with the first of a Manchester derby double-header at Old Trafford on Tuesday, while there is a Manchester United-flavour to Vale's midweek assignment as they travel to Salford City in the EFL Trophy on the same day.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claims midfield superstar Kevin De Bruyne plays the type of passes other footballers are simply incapable of.

The Belgium midfielder produced a dominant display to inspire City to a comfortable 3-0 away win over Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

De Bruyne scored two fine goals either side of an assist for Raheem Sterling, leaving defending champions City 14 points behind leaders Liverpool.

The two-goal star played in a more advanced role and, while lauding his passing, Guardiola acknowledged the benefits of De Bruyne being shorn of defensive responsibility.

"Kevin made an incredible two goals and an assist," Guardiola said in his post-match news conference.

"He is an extraordinary player so we don't discourage his quality. He sees passes and action that normal humans can't see, having a special vision and assists.

"Always we speak to him, 'You have to score more goals', and today he scored two incredible goals and got an assist for Raheem Sterling.

"Kevin can play in different positions, but, of course, when they can think more in attack and less in defence, it is much better."

Guardiola was satisfied with the performance of Phil Foden, who made his first Premier League start of the season against Arsenal.

City frequently looked to hit the hapless Gunners on the break, though, which Guardiola suggested did not suit the 19-year-old's game.

"Phil always plays good," the manager said. "He doesn't always touch the ball but he played well defensively.

"We make the actions for the counter-attack but not as much ball possession, so that's why he did not touch the ball too much.

"Always when he has the ball, he does another extraordinary thing. He is a great player.

"He did what he should do and helped us to win the game, especially in the first half. He’s so clever with his passes and so on."

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne vowed the champions will "keep fighting" for the Premier League title despite the huge gap to leaders Liverpool even after crushing Arsenal.

The Belgium international scored two goals and provided an assist in City's clinical 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

City are 14 points adrift of table-topping Liverpool and four behind second-placed Leicester City, who they face next weekend.

But while manager Pep Guardiola has acknowledged a third straight City championship is "not realistic", De Bruyne was encouraged by the response to last week's Manchester derby defeat.

"We keep fighting," De Bruyne told Sky Sports. "I think every time you lose a game, the only reaction you can show is to win the next one. 

"Every time we lose points, we come back with a good reaction. We know we have not been at our best this year, but there are still a lot of games to play for us."

De Bruyne fell short in his bid for a stunning hat-trick, seeing one effort saved spectacularly by Bernd Leno, but he was content with his work.

He said of the goals: "For the first, the ball came with the bounce and I tried to keep composed, not lean backward, and keep it as low as possible, and, fortunately, it went low enough and under the bar.

"I think the second goal and the shot [that was saved] after were similar, but the goalkeeper doesn't see the ball [for the goal] and it gives him less reaction time.

"It would have been nice to get a third, but to score two goals and win after the struggles we have had is good. It's good to come back with a win."

Alongside De Bruyne, teenager Phil Foden made a long-awaited first Premier League start of the season.

He acknowledged the merits of featuring in the same midfield as the two-goal star, adding: "When you have a guy like this, anything can happen. It's a pleasure to play with him. 

"I can't be in a better position than I am to learn from him."

Guardiola added: "Kevin made incredible goals and assists. The first and third goals - both were fantastic.

"The reaction was always there to losing the derby. We played much better than this in the past and lost or drew, and here we win. That is football."

There was a time when the thought of Manchester City without David Silva would have left supporters in a nervous sweat, such has been his influence and impact in the Premier League.

The crafty Spaniard will arguably go down as the greatest import in Premier League history, with his technical and passing abilities almost unrivalled, while he has enjoyed incredible success with City.

Yet, if Sunday's exceptional 3-0 demolition of Arsenal proved anything about City, it's that their midfield now looks better without Silva, who will depart at the end of the season.

One man stood out in particular in north London.

After the whistle was blown to signify the end of the first half at Emirates Stadium, Kevin De Bruyne ambled towards the tunnel appearing typically expressionless – his face showing no hint of acknowledgement of what he had just done to Arsenal.

It was an absolute masterclass from the barnstorming Belgian, whose trademark blend of emphatic power and technical wizardry left the Gunners utterly helpless.

The first goal, just 89 seconds into the match, was quintessential De Bruyne. Receiving Gabriel Jesus' cut-back as it sat up for him, he found the roof of the net with a finish that seemed to defy the laws of physics, picking up remarkable speed despite it being a controlled, side-footed strike.

That was just the tip of the iceberg, however.

There was a purpose and relentlessness to De Bruyne's performance that gave the impression he was playing with a vengeance, like he'd been wronged and was out to exact revenge by imposing misery on the hosts.

That drive was plain to see when creating City's second goal, exchanging passes with Jesus before darting forward with three defenders for company and squaring to Raheem Sterling for an easy finish.

But there was even more to that goal than De Bruyne just running very fast in a straight line and then passing. The move began just outside City's own penalty area, with Rodrigo doing brilliantly under pressure before Phil Foden took several out of the equation with a line-breaking pass.

It was a fitting involvement from the 19-year-old, who was making his first Premier League start of the season in place of the injured Silva.

Many had long been calling out for Foden to secure a place in the starting XI ahead of Silva, who by his own standards has been underwhelming this term.

The talented England Under-21 international quietly went about his business during the first half, often filling the half spaces towards the flanks. Although by no means devastating, almost every time Foden got the ball he looked capable of picking through Arsenal's midfield line.

He did just that when setting up De Bruyne's gorgeous second, turning cleverly and darting into space before nudging possession to the Belgian, who sumptuously found the bottom-left corner.

History almost repeated itself late in the half, the same pair combining – only this time Bernd Leno displayed a comparable level of brilliance with an astonishing save, tipping De Bruyne's strike on to the post.

With De Bruyne's ruthlessness, Foden's nous for finding dangerous spaces and Rodri's authoritative conducting, City's midfield looks set for the foreseeable future.

Though Pep Guardiola's use of Foden does continue to puzzle.

The decision to withdraw him in the 56th minute when 3-0 up against a team with barely a modicum of mental fortitude was eyebrow-raising, particularly given Guardiola's regular backing of Foden as Silva's so-called heir.

Foden's ability has even led Guardiola to lauding him as the greatest young player he's ever worked with. This from the man who coached Lionel Messi during his early years.

If Foden even gets close to De Bruyne's standard, City fans will consider themselves extremely fortunate, as on Sunday's evidence there are few better than the Belgian.

In De Bruyne and Foden, City have a creative hub that could dominate for years – but Guardiola needs to let go of the reins if the latter is to succeed Silva and reach the level he appears destined for.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola handed Phil Foden a first Premier League start of the season in Sunday's clash at Arsenal.

Midfielder Foden has made seven league appearances for City this season but all had come from the bench before his promotion at Emirates Stadium.

The 19-year-old's inclusion came as one of four changes made by Guardiola to the side which lost the Manchester derby last weekend as Nicolas Otamendi, Bernard Mendy, Ilkay Gundogan were also recalled.

John Stones, David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Angelino were the players to make way.

Arsenal interim boss Freddie Ljungberg made two changes to the side which beat West Ham on Monday.

Sead Kolasinac and Matteo Guendouzi were included in the starting line-up with the injured Kieran Tierney and Granit Xhaka the players dropping out.

Manchester City will be without Sergio Aguero and John Stones for this weekend's Premier League clash with Arsenal, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

Aguero has missed City's past five matches because of a thigh injury and Stones limped off in last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United.

Neither player is fit to return for Sunday's trip to Emirates Stadium, while David Silva is also doubtful after sitting out training on Thursday and Friday.

"Stones has got a muscular injury. I don't know when he will be back," Guardiola said at his pre-match news conference. "Sergio still hasn't trained with the team.

"David is not fit. Yesterday and today he could not train so we'll see tomorrow. He got a kick in the leg - it was painful, but not a big issue."

Silva's potential absence could pave the way for Phil Foden to start for a second game running.

The 19-year-old was on the scoresheet in Wednesday's 4-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb and Guardiola is prepared to show greater faith in the youngster.

"He has played 50 games and is 19 years old. In one of the top teams in Europe I don't know if there's anyone of his age who's played that many," Guardiola said.

"We're delighted with him and he'll play incredible games in the future. We're so happy with the way he played - it was an incredible experience for him.

"Maybe not all 50 games are 90 minutes, but he's been involved in tough games - Tottenham last season, Atalanta, we trust him a lot. 

"Every season he's playing more minutes and one day, maybe not that far away, he'll be a player who will play every weekend. We'll see when."

City trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by 14 points ahead of their showdown with Arsenal, who sacked head coach Unai Emery last month.

Freddie Ljungberg has won only one of his four matches in interim charge, but Guardiola is expecting a "big test" in north London.

"The club decided on a person who had a long time at the club many years ago, someone who knows the feelings, the fans, the way they like to play," Guardiola said.

"We'll have to figure out what they'll try to do - normally they have a typical style of play. They have quality between the lines. Arsenal away is always a big test for any team."

Asked about the ongoing speculation linking his assistant Mikel Arteta with the Arsenal job, Guardiola replied: "You can be 45 years old and not be ready or 35 years old and be ready.

"Only he knows. I spoke about it two weeks ago. He's got two weeks more experience since then, so he's ready."

Pep Guardiola had high praise for Phil Foden and Benjamin Mendy after both players impressed in Manchester City's Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick as City, who were already sure to progress from Group C, came from a goal down to win 4-1 in Croatia and complete an unbeaten group-stage campaign, but Foden was the standout performer on his 50th appearance for the club.

When it was put to Guardiola in a news conference that Foden's display was "something else" for a 19-year-old, the City manager smiled and replied: "As always."

Guardiola added: "I think when he's close to the box he's more dangerous than when he's away from the box. I think he still has to learn a little bit when he plays a little bit away [from the box]... the tempo, the spaces.

"But when he plays close to the box and he can attack the central defenders, attack the goal, he's an incredibly dangerous player. So he played really well again. Really, really well."

Mendy has struggled for fitness and form during his time at City, but Guardiola was also impressed with the former Monaco defender's display, stating: "He played his best game of the season."

However, the former Barcelona coach refused to reveal whether Mendy can consider himself the Premier League champions' first-choice left-back, with Angelino and Oleksandr Zinchenko his other options.

"They have to fight... and I will decide," said Guardiola. "Angelino, when he played, especially at Anfield in a tough game, he was incredible. We know the quality from Oleks [Zinchenko], and of course Mendy has this physicality when he's fit and especially when his mind and his head is in the right position, he's an extraordinary player."

Dinamo finished bottom of the group as a result of their defeat, when a win would have earned them second place at Atalanta's expense.

Nevertheless, coach Nenad Bjelica said: "I am proud and happy for everything we showed in these six matches. We were fighting to go through until the last half of the group stage and we played against big clubs all the way."
 

Gabriel Jesus helped himself to a hat-trick as Manchester City came from behind to win 4-1 and end Dinamo Zagreb's Champions League hopes.

Dinamo were eying a place in the knockout stages for the first time in their history and they were going through when Dani Olmo's sublime volley opened the scoring.

City headed into the match on the back of a chastening derby defeat to Manchester United and with their place in the last-16 as group winners already secured.

However, Pep Guardiola's side summoned the fight to pull level through Jesus' 34th-minute header and a quickfire brace early in the second half – taking the 22-year-old past 100 career goals – ended the argument, before Phil Foden got the goal his efforts deserved four minutes from full-time.

A sedate opening to the contest was blown apart in the 10th minute when Olmo watched Damian Kadzior's pass over his right shoulder to volley superbly beyond the flimsy efforts of Claudio Bravo in the City goal.

Bravo's opposite number Dominik Livakovic got down well to keep out Ilkay Gundogan's deflected low drive but City offered little threat until an equaliser the hosts angrily disputed.

Attempts to win the ball back from Foden and Jesus left Zagreb players nursing knocks, but City understandably played on with Petar Stojanovic prone on the turf and their Brazil striker headed home Riyad Mahrez's floated cross.

Tempers flared immediately afterwards, with Dinamo captain Arijan Ademi booked for his confrontational protests, although there was no excuse for Amer Gojak's elbow into Rodri's face in first-half stoppage time. Inexplicably, there was no red card despite VAR being available.

Nanad Bjelica's men failed to channel their indignation in a lackadaisical start to the second half, with Jesus coolly doubling his tally from Foden's deft pass.

Switching Foden on to the left of the City forward line and Bernardo Silva back into midfield was reaping dividends, mainly for Jesus, who steered home Benjamin Mendy's cross following a delightfully slick 54th-minute move.

Joao Cancelo thundered over before Jesus headed wastefully over from another Mendy cross as the fight fell out of Dinamo, with Foden slotting in Silva's cutback for the final flourish as the home team's European adventure came to an end.

What does it mean? Undefeated group campaign can bolster City's Euro belief

Speaking to BT Sport before the match, Ilkay Gundogan conceded City's hopes of a third consecutive Premier League title are effectively over as they sit 14 points behind leaders Liverpool. It means the focus come February can turn towards the one major honour to elude Guardiola during his time in Manchester. The pressure of the latter stages of this competition have frequently overwhelmed City but a much-changed side overcoming a deficit with composure and class in a hostile environment is something to build on. For Dinamo, meanwhile, the loss allied to Atalanta's win left them bottom of the group.

Fifty-up Foden makes case for more prominent role

Jesus will deservedly take the headlines but City's England Under-21 midfielder provided the spark for their equaliser, created the second and fed Mendy to cross for the third. Foden then showed his eye for a goal and bring a verve and energy sorely lacking from many of his team's recent displays. This was a 50th outing in City colours ​– many more should come in the starting XI from this point.

VARCE! Lack of red card for Gojak a joke

As Dinamo forlornly chased shadows during the second half, Gojak might have wished referee Carlos del Cerro Grande had put him out of his misery. But on he played, after the sight of the Zagreb midfielder thudding his elbow close to Rodri's eye socket provided a major talking point. If VAR cannot help the officials out in such a – to coin a phrase – clear and obvious instance, serious questions must be asked.

What's next

Dinamo will hope for better local-derby fortunes than City when they host Lokomotiva Zagreb on Saturday. Guardiola's side travel to face managerless Arsenal in the Premier League a day later.

Pep Guardiola remains convinced Phil Foden has the ability to become the heartbeat of the Manchester City team after David Silva leaves the club.

Silva, 33, has already confirmed his intention to depart City at the end of the season when his contract expires, bringing a 10-year spell at the club to a close.

The Spaniard has become a City icon, with many of the opinion he has been the Premier League's greatest foreign import, enjoying great success and consistency.

He has mostly been kept back for Premier League action this term, making only two appearances in the Champions League, and he will be missing again for Wednesday's trip to Dinamo Zagreb, with Sergio Aguero and John Stones also absent.

"All three are injured," Guardiola confirmed to reporters on Tuesday. "David had a huge kick in the dangerous part of his leg and it is too much of a risk to play.

"John is out for the next weeks, Sergio is better but he is not ready."

Silva's absence means England Under-21 international Foden is likely to get a rare start.

The 19-year-old is highly rated at City and has shown glimpses of immense talent in his short career, but he has only been afforded 83 minutes of Premier League football this season.

Guardiola has been accused of underusing the midfielder, though he insists his faith in Foden is unwavering, confident he can be a key player once Silva leaves.

When asked if Foden will be the heartbeat of City's team from next season, Guardiola said: "That is our wish.

"Of course David is a legend – the amount of games, the amount of titles, but that is our wish and we believe he [Foden] can do it.

"He can do it, in small spaces he is so good, Phil. He has this incredible quality for the first reception in small spaces – also the box to box, like a typical English player. He will get the minutes he needs at his age right now.

"Always he has a good impact coming from the bench. Some players don't have an impact coming from the bench, always I have that feeling from Phil.

"Against Atalanta we believed he could play an incredible game and he did it. Alongside him are Rodri, [Ilkay] Gundogan, Kevin [De Bruyne] – many players, but I never doubt about him [Foden]. Whether he plays 90 minutes, 20 minutes or not one single minute, the confidence is always there."

Another highly rated prospect will face City in the form of Dani Olmo, whom Guardiola jokingly suggested was one of hundreds of players the Premier League champions want to buy.

"We want to buy 100 players every month," he quipped. "One of them is Olmo. We'll see.

"He's an incredible surprise, he came from Barcelona's academy and it's not easy to come here [Zagreb], and with the Spain Under-21s he was one of the best players.

"So, maybe it's the last year or one of the last years he's here, then he'll go to one of the big clubs to compete for a big name. I'm so glad for him, he's doing so well in this league and the Champions League – the future is in his hands."

Phil Foden says Manchester City must set their sights on the daunting task of winning every remaining Premier League game this season after they slipped 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

A 2-2 draw at Newcastle United, who twice came from behind on Saturday, saw Pep Guardiola's champions fail to win for the fifth time in 14 league fixtures.

Liverpool, by contrast, have dropped only two points and a subsequent 2-1 home win for the Reds over Brighton and Hove Albion boosted their already considerable advantage over City.

Guardiola has urged his side to stop thinking about the title race and instead divert all their energy into claiming victories in each individual game.

City won their final 14 league games last term to pip Liverpool to top spot and Foden knows a similar streak is now required as they approach a hectic period in the domestic calendar.

"It's not in our hands now. All we can do is win every game. It's going to be a big challenge for us," said the 19-year-old, who came off the bench as a second-half replacement for David Silva at St James' Park.

"I think [December] is the most important time of the season. Teams usually drop points.

"It's going to be interesting. All we can do now is to try to win all our games and see where it takes us."

Foden acknowledged Jonjo Shelvey's superb 88th-minute equaliser represented a painful blow for a City side who had not long retaken the lead through a magnificent Kevin De Bruyne half-volley.

"We thought that [De Bruyne's goal] was going to be the winner," he added.

"But they kept going and they managed to score a great strike in the end, unfortunately for us. We were all gutted in the changing room. We need to move forward and focus on our next games."

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