Phil Foden admits his confidence is soaring after delivering for Manchester City yet again.

The England international claimed his 22nd goal of the campaign with a stunning strike from outside the area in City’s thrilling 3-3 draw at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, who scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa earlier this month, appears to be City’s most in-form player heading into the closing stages of a season they hope will yield another three trophies.

“I seem to be in good scoring form this year,” said academy graduate Foden. “When you’re scoring, your confidence is really high.

 

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“I put it down to my determination and wanting to score goals. I always believe – no matter what – I’m going to get a chance in the game and hopefully I can put them away.”

Foden’s brilliant long-range effort at the Bernabeu pulled City back level at 2-2 after they had surrendered the lead.

“It’s one of the best goals I’ve scored,” he said. “I always have this special ability in and around the box where I see myself scoring a lot of goals – it’s one of those you practice on the training ground after training.

“When I received it on the edge of the box, I thought why not try it. Thankfully I got a chance in the game to do that. I made good contact with it and when it went in the top corner, I was delighted.

“It’s one of the best feelings – to score in one of the best stadiums in the world, I can say I’ve ticked it off the bucket list now.”

Foden’s goal was followed up by an equally impressive strike from Josko Gvardiol but Real hit back to level again and ensure the second leg of the quarter-final next week will begin evenly poised.

“We stayed calm when we went behind and we just played our football, we grew into the game,” Foden said.

“I feel we’ve come a long way to come here and do what we did. We could have controlled it better when we went 3-2 up but we’re playing one of the best teams in the world.

“Overall, it’s not a bad result for us. To come here and score three goals, we’ll take it back to the Etihad.”

Rodri admits he needs a break amid the intensity of Manchester City’s relentless pursuit of an unprecedented second successive treble.

The Spain international, who has not lost any of his last 66 games for club and country in a run stretching back more than a year, is vital to City’s bid to make history.

Yet Pep Guardiola’s influential midfield driving force looked laboured at times in Tuesday’s thrilling 3-3 Champions League draw at Real Madrid and concedes the schedule is taking its toll.

The 27-year-old said: “Every one of us can do better, even myself, but we need to rest to be honest.

“I do. I do need a rest. Let’s see how we speak, how we live the situation. Sometimes it is what it is.

“I need to adjust. It (rest) is something we are planning, yes.”

Guardiola could therefore make some changes for Saturday’s Premier League encounter with relegation-threatened Luton, as he looks ahead to the return clash with Real next Wednesday.

Yet with just a point separating the top three in the domestic competition, there is little margin for error for third-placed City.

Rodri felt the holders showed their mettle as they recovered from a 2-1 half-time deficit to lead on an enthralling night at the Bernabeu Stadium.

Bernardo Silva’s early strike was wiped out by a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort, but the English side responded with stunning strikes from Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol.

Real, however, were able to have the final say as Federico Valverde volleyed a late equaliser to ensure the second leg of the quarter-final tie will begin evenly poised.

“We showed our mentality to come back, to be honest,” said Rodri. “To go against them and come back with those goals sums up the mentality of the champions we are.

“It was a good result for us in terms of how the game was and everything is open. It’s one game in our home now and we are very strong there.”

City claimed a draw at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the semi-finals last year before thrashing the Spanish giants 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium to go through.

“Of course we can recreate it,” said Rodri, a former Atletico Madrid player. “We know how strong we are in our home.

“The key thing was, we knew whatever happened it wasn’t going to be over, even if we won or we lost. We have a draw that is the same result we had last season.

“It’s a good result in terms of the feeling of the team. We were finding the spaces in the second half, we did it great and now we move to Manchester. If we copy the first 20-30 minutes of the second half here, it’s going to be difficult for them.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed his side’s character after the Champions League holders played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Real Madrid.

Guardiola claimed the City of previous years could easily have crumbled under the weight of pressure as the Spanish giants twice hit back in a compelling quarter-final first leg at the Bernabeu.

City led after just two minutes through Bernardo Silva but Real hit back to go in front with a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort.

Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol turned the game around again with stunning second-half efforts but Federico Valverde levelled to ensure next week’s return clash at the Etihad Stadium will begin evenly poised.

Guardiola said: “I think it was really good. Two teams that want to attack. The quality of the goals was fantastic.

“What I liked most is how we played in the second half. We were 2-1 down, playing here without much composure.

“They are so dangerous on transitions and could score more goals but we controlled the game really well.

“This game, in the first three seasons together, we’d have lost 4-1 or 5-1 as we were not stable emotionally.

“You need time to learn and now we are more stable and hopefully in the future we can do better and better.

“We went 2-3 but here it is never over. It’s Madrid, it’s special. We take the result and in one week in Manchester, with our people, it will be sold out and they will help us.”

City were without chief playmaker Kevin De Bruyne after he was sick shortly before kick-off.

Guardiola said: “He started to vomit when we arrived and he didn’t feel good to play.

“But one of the secrets at the high levels is to adapt quickly to chaos. There is no time to complain.”

In De Bruyne’s absence, it was Foden who played the key role as City recovered from their half-time deficit.

Guardiola said: “Phil was not involved in the first half. He was not one of the best performers but he has this spark and incredible talent to score goals and create something.”

Foden was taken off with an injury late on but Guardiola played down fears it was serious.

He said: “It’s a knock. He was grumpy with me for the substitution so that means he’s OK.”

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was taking charge of his 200th game in the competition, felt the result was fair.

“It was a well-balanced game,” the Italian said. “Both teams really competed to the limit. It was a hard-fought draw.

“They scored early but we reacted really well and played excellently for 60 minutes, but City scored two unstoppable goals.”

Manchester City face a battle to retain their Champions League crown after being held to a thrilling 3-3 draw by Real Madrid in the Spanish capital.

The holders twice led in an enthralling contest under the Bernabeu Stadium’s new roof but the quarter-final remains on a knife edge after Federico Valverde gave the hosts a deserved share of the spoils.

Bernardo Silva got City off to a flying start but a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort sent Real in at half-time of Tuesday’s first leg 2-1 ahead.

Phil Foden equalised for City with a brilliant strike and Josko Gvardiol put them back in front but Valverde had the final word to set up another intriguing contest at Etihad Stadium next week.

City missed the creativity and influence of Kevin De Bruyne who, having been feeling unwell, was sick soon after the team arrived at the stadium.

That forced manager Pep Guardiola to make a late change to his plans and bring Mateo Kovacic into the starting line-up.

The visitors initially seemed unaffected both by that and the raucous atmosphere Real had attempted to amplify by closing the roof at their newly-remodelled 85,000-capacity arena.

They were quickly onto the front foot and were given their early chance to take the lead when Aurelien Tchouameni crudely halted Jack Grealish to earn a booking that will keep him out of the second leg.

With Real failing to form a wall, Silva took full advantage and caught goalkeeper Andriy Lunin napping as he thumped a left-foot shot into the bottom corner after just two minutes.

City went close to adding a second as Erling Haaland had a shot saved from a tight angle and Grealish’s follow-up effort was blocked.

It had seemed the perfect start for City but Real hit back with two quickfire goals.

The equaliser came after a patient build-up as Eduardo Camavinga charged forward and fired a long-range shot that took a wicked deflection off Dias and gave Stefan Ortega – starting despite Ederson’s presence on the bench – no chance.

The hosts grabbed the lead just moments later as Rodrygo broke clear down the left and outpaced the backtracking Manuel Akanji before delicately poking the ball past Ortega.

Real threatened again as Valverde shot at Ortega and Rodrygo put another effort over.

City began to get sloppy in possession as Real upped the pressure. The normally solid Rodri looked laboured and Vinicius Junior tested Ortega before the break.

Grealish cut inside but missed the target as City tried to re-establish themselves early in the second half but Real regained control with Jude Bellingham and Vinicius going close.

Lesser sides could have folded but City underlined their enduring class as they not only weathered the storm but pulled themselves back into the game with a stunning strike from Foden.

The England international, who had been enduring a frustrating game, caught Lunin unaware as he lashed a ferocious strike into the top corner from outside the area after 66 minutes.

It was soon to get better for City as Gvardiol bagged his first goal for the club with an equally thunderous long-range effort five minutes later.

Yet, in keeping with a compelling encounter, it was not to be the end of the scoring as Real responded yet again.

This time Valverde was the player on target as he met a Vinicius cross with a fine volley that flew past Ortega.

Manchester City face a battle to retain their Champions League crown after being held to a thrilling 3-3 draw by Real Madrid in the Spanish capital.

The holders twice led in an enthralling contest under the Bernabeu Stadium’s new roof but the quarter-final remains on a knife edge after Federico Valverde gave the hosts a deserved share of the spoils.

Bernardo Silva got City off to a flying start but a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort sent Real in at half-time of Tuesday’s first leg 2-1 ahead.

Phil Foden equalised for City with a brilliant strike and Josko Gvardiol put them back in front but Valverde had the final word to set up another intriguing contest at Etihad Stadium next week.

City missed the creativity and influence of Kevin De Bruyne who, having been feeling unwell, was sick soon after the team arrived at the stadium.

That forced manager Pep Guardiola to make a late change to his plans and bring Mateo Kovacic into the starting line-up.

The visitors initially seemed unaffected both by that and the raucous atmosphere Real had attempted to amplify by closing the roof at their newly-remodelled 85,000-capacity arena.

They were quickly onto the front foot and were given their early chance to take the lead when Aurelien Tchouameni crudely halted Jack Grealish to earn a booking that will keep him out of the second leg.

With Real failing to form a wall, Silva took full advantage and caught goalkeeper Andriy Lunin napping as he thumped a left-foot shot into the bottom corner after just two minutes.

City went close to adding a second as Erling Haaland had a shot saved from a tight angle and Grealish’s follow-up effort was blocked.

It had seemed the perfect start for City but Real hit back with two quickfire goals.

The equaliser came after a patient build-up as Eduardo Camavinga charged forward and fired a long-range shot that took a wicked deflection off Dias and gave Stefan Ortega – starting despite Ederson’s presence on the bench – no chance.

The hosts grabbed the lead just moments later as Rodrygo broke clear down the left and outpaced the backtracking Manuel Akanji before delicately poking the ball past Ortega.

Real threatened again as Valverde shot at Ortega and Rodrygo put another effort over.

City began to get sloppy in possession as Real upped the pressure. The normally solid Rodri looked laboured and Vinicius Junior tested Ortega before the break.

Grealish cut inside but missed the target as City tried to re-establish themselves early in the second half but Real regained control with Jude Bellingham and Vinicius going close.

Lesser sides could have folded but City underlined their enduring class as they not only weathered the storm but pulled themselves back into the game with a stunning strike from Foden.

The England international, who had been enduring a frustrating game, caught Lunin unaware as he lashed a ferocious strike into the top corner from outside the area after 66 minutes.

It was soon to get better for City as Gvardiol bagged his first goal for the club with an equally thunderous long-range effort five minutes later.

Yet, in keeping with a compelling encounter, it was not to be the end of the scoring as Real responded yet again.

This time Valverde was the player on target as he met a Vinicius cross with a fine volley that flew past Ortega.

Phil Foden’s stunning hat-trick against Aston Villa stirred up memories of a young Wayne Rooney as the Manchester City midfielder continues to impress this season.

The 23-year-old starred on Wednesday night, restoring City’s lead just before half-time with a free-kick and adding a second in the 62nd minute before completing his treble shortly after.

His performance drew comparisons with Rooney post-match, with TNT Sports host Laura Woods saying: “The third goal, especially. We were chatting about this a second ago, Rio (Ferdinand) was saying it was almost like your Wayne Rooney moment, that something doesn’t go right, you get angry, and you bang in a goal.”

Foden replied: “You know it’s funny you said that because as I was celebrating I was walking with Jackie (Grealish), he also said about the Wayne Rooney goal, said ‘that’s what it reminded me of’.”

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how the two players compare.

Goals

Wednesday night’s discussion about the two players came following the similarity in the type of goal scored.

Foden’s third goal sparked the conversation as he secured his hat-trick in sensational style with a thumping top-corner finish just moments after losing the ball outside the box.

The comparison to Rooney’s goal against Newcastle in 2005 followed, where the forward smashed an incredible volley from outside the area into the top corner just moments are complaining to the referee about a foul that was not given.

Introduction to senior football

Both players had slightly different introductions to senior football, with Rooney quickly making a name for himself in the top flight.

The striker made his senior debut for Everton in 2002 aged 16 against Tottenham and scored his first Premier League goal for the Toffees in October that year with a long-range curling shot past England goalkeeper David Seaman which bounced in off the underside of the bar.

Rooney netted 17 goals in 77 appearances before moving to Manchester United in 2004, but compared to Rooney’s breakthrough, Foden has gradually eased into the senior team at Manchester City.

After impressing in City’s youth set-up and for England in the Under-17 World Cup, Foden was included in several matchday squads before making his senior bow as a substitute for City in their Champions League clash against Feyenoord in November 2017.

He earned his full debut in the competition the following month before making his Premier League bow against Tottenham 10 days later and Foden made five league appearances in total for the club in the 2017-18 season, gradually cementing his spot in the City line-up over the following seasons.

Style of play

Although Rooney was deployed as a striker for the most part, he was able to play across the forward line and used his pace well to score and create goals.

As well as being involved in wider positions, towards the end of his time with United Rooney dropped into midfield, especially under manager Louis van Gaal.

Foden displays a similar versatility and the left-footed midfielder can play out wide or in attacking midfield.

His best performances seem to come from a more central position, which is where he played against Villa and admitted post-match that he prefers playing in the middle.

Manager Pep Guardiola also believes playing centrally benefits Foden and said: “When Phil plays in a central position he has a sense for goals and he proved it again.”

Stats

After bagging his second hat-trick of the season, Foden now moves onto 21 goals in all competitions, a career best for him.

His first senior treble came in the Manchester derby last campaign where Foden and Erling Haaland both scored three times in City’s 6-3 hammering of their neighbours.

Foden now has three Premier League hat-tricks to his name at the age of 23 and only needs another four to draw level with Rooney, who scored seven in the league.

His total Premier League tally adds up to 49 goals, with 81 in his Manchester City career overall, but he still has plenty of catching up to do with Rooney, who scored 208 times in the top flight and bagged a club-record 253 for Manchester United.

Pep Guardiola said Phil Foden can “do whatever he wants” in football after watching him fire Manchester City to a 4-1 Premier League victory over Aston Villa with a brilliant hat-trick.

With Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne dropping to the bench, Foden moved into a central position and orchestrated the demolition of Villa with an outstanding display, playing a hand in Rodri’s opener and then taking the game away from the visitors after Jhon Duran had levelled.

Foden restored City’s lead with a free-kick in first-half stoppage time when he found the gap that Nicolo Zaniolo left in Villa’s wall, then won it with two excellent goals just after the hour, the last of them a shot into the top corner after he had lost the ball but quickly regained it.

His second hat-trick of the campaign moved Foden on to 21 goals for the season and kept the pressure on in the title race, with the champions one point behind new leaders Arsenal and level with Liverpool who host Sheffield United on Thursday.

“What can I say? Three goals,” Guardiola said. “He didn’t start well but I think the goal helped him a lot for the mood. When Phil plays in a central position he has a sense for goals and he proved it again.

“He can do whatever he wants. He’s a real top-class player. We know it. But he is still open-minded, he has to understand the game, he has to focus on things, sometimes he’s a bit distracted in exactly what you have to do offensively, defensively, but he has a natural talent – a gift – which is special.

“The work ethic is unbelievable and he has an incredible sense of goal. When he has the ball and he’s attacking the back line he is going to score, you had that feeling. It is not easy to find it and that’s why he’s so special when he’s playing these central positions.”

De Bruyne and Haaland got a breather with next week’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid looming, but without them City turned in one of their better performances of the season and a vast improvement on Sunday’s goalless draw against title rivals Arsenal.

“We were better,” Guardiola said. “It’s true we conceded a few transitions and we lost a few balls and when that happens it’s a lesson we have to learn for the next game but we had incredible energy, four-five players up front and it was really good. We created a lot of chances.”

Villa remain fourth but the defeat leaves them only two points above Tottenham, who have a game in hand.

Unai Emery was without the injured Ollie Watkins and then also lost goalkeeper Emi Martinez to a stomach problem after he had been named in the starting line-up. But the Spaniard chose to make several more changes to his side – six in total from Saturday’s win over Wolves.

“It’s clear we were motivated and excited to try to be competitive, trying to keep it consistent like we are in the Premier League, but of course we were playing against Manchester City,” Emery said.

“We were competing until the 60th minute and as well we were trying to build our team with some players who are not playing a lot, we are trying to give them chances to play.

“Even when we were losing 2-1 we had some chances to score with Douglas Luiz, but they were pushing us a lot, they showed us their potential and they deserved to win.

“We will play a lot of matches in the next weeks, starting on Saturday against Brentford, and it was important to try to be intelligent playing against Manchester City. Of course we wanted to win but with some players injured and some players suspended we wanted to get some practice with some players.”

Phil Foden scored a brilliant hat-trick as Manchester City kept the pressure on in the Premier League title race with a 4-1 win over Champions League-chasing Aston Villa.

A day after defending his star striker against criticism from Roy Keane, Pep Guardiola left Erling Haaland on the bench alongside Kevin De Bruyne, clearing the stage for Foden to grab the spotlight with an outstanding performance and his second hat-trick of the campaign.

After Jhon Duran cancelled out Rodri’s opener, the 23-year-old put City back in front with a free-kick late in the first half before two excellent strikes settled it just after the hour mark, taking Foden to 21 City goals for the season.

Pep Guardiola’s side remain third, a point behind leaders Arsenal and level with Liverpool – who host Sheffield United on Thursday – after their first win over a top-five side this term.

But while little has changed in the table, this was a far more fluid performance from the champions days after Arsenal ended their run of 57 consecutive home games with a goal.

The decision to leave out De Bruyne and Haaland was made with next week’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid looming, but neither have been at their best since coming back from injury in recent weeks.

Jack Grealish and Jeremy Doku came in to play on the wings and Foden shifted inside, from where he would orchestrate City’s win.

Villa, already without the injured Ollie Watkins, had to replace goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez due to illness just before kick-off and stand-in Robin Olsen was soon picking the ball out of his net.

Foden fed Doku on the right and the Belgian cut it back for Rodri to sweep home his eighth goal of the season after 11 minutes.

City’s lead lasted only nine minutes before Villa drew level with an excellent counter-attack. Julian Alvarez lost the ball on the edge of the Villa box and the visitors swept forward before Duran played a quick one-two with Morgan Rogers and fired across Stefan Ortega’s goal into the far corner.

After Jack Grealish – booed constantly by his old fans in the Villa end – was booked for dissent when a free-kick went in Douglas Luiz’s favour, Olsen made a fine save with his right boot to deny Alvarez.

Luiz was living dangerously late in the first half. Already booked for bringing down Grealish on the edge of the area, he then fouled Foden in an almost identical spot in first-half stoppage time.

Darren England kept his cards in his pocket but Villa were punished anyway as Foden found a gap in the wall left by Nicolo Zaniolo to beat Olsen.

There was still time for Alvarez to go close twice before half-time, with Olsen tipping a close-range header over the crossbar, and the goalkeeper was busy again at the start of the second half, denying Bernardo Silva after Foden’s neat pass left him one-on-one.

Villa threatened on the break as Luiz drove forward and hit a shot that was tipped over by Ortega, who then denied Clement Lenglet from the resulting corner.

But Foden would soon settle the match. In the 62nd minute Rodri rode Moussa Diaby’s challenge and rolled the ball inside for Foden to beat Olsen with a first-time shot into the bottom right corner.

Lewis lashed a shot narrowly wide but the killer fourth goal arrived in the 69th minute. The chance appeared to have gone when Foden lost the ball on the edge of the Villa area, but Calum Chambers scuffed his clearance straight back to Foden, and he lashed a shot into the top right corner.

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool cannot pin all of their hopes on Virgil van Dijk shutting down Erling Haaland when the title rivals Manchester City visit Anfield.

There are no shortage of subplots when the Premier League pacesetters square off on Merseyside on Sunday, not least the possibility of Klopp’s final head-to-head battle against Pep Guardiola.

Away from the managers’ dugouts it could be tempting to view the game as an arm wrestle between the irrepressible Haaland – who has 29 goals this season and seven in his last three outings – and the commanding Van Dijk.

But when it comes to City, Klopp believes there is too much quality and too many alternate options to rely on an old-fashioned man-marking exercise.

“Football doesn’t work like that any more. If Haaland is not scoring that is good but they have other options to do that,” he said.

“If Virgil van Dijk would be able to nullify Haaland then (Phil) Foden fires the ball in from 30 yards into the far corner, or Kevin De Bruyne does exactly the same, or Rodri is arriving, or Bernardo Silva is doing it.

“I don’t think for a second like that, that they are playing against each other. Yes, there are moments it definitely will happen, 100 per cent, and hopefully we will be at the better end that, but this football game is about so many aspects.

“When you watch the movement of Erling Haaland he is incredibly smart putting himself in positions. He’s smart enough not to all of the time be around the one he might consider the best one.”

Liverpool had planned to have Ibrahima Konate alongside Van Dijk to help manage the free-scoring Norwegian, but saw their plans dented when the former was injured in Thursday’s Europa League thrashing of Sparta Prague.

While awaiting the result of scans Klopp did not appear optimistic about Konate’s chances, but made it clear he would have no qualms throwing rookie Jarrell Quansah into the biggest game of his career if required.

A year ago the 21-year-old was lining up against Forest Green during a loan spell at Bristol Rovers but circumstances have allowed him to progress further and faster than anyone expected. Injuries across the backline thrust him up the pecking order and his response has earned the manager’s trust.

“Massive, massive development. He just stepped up,” said Klopp.

“He came back (from Rovers) and it wasn’t that everybody in the club was saying, ‘yeah, he will be the next one’. We knew he is a real talent, we knew he has massive strength, especially on the ball, stuff like this. But how will he deal with the next-quality Premier League strikers? How is that physicality?

“We thought the situation in the squad is right to do so. If you want (he was) centre-half number five in that moment. But he showed immediately that he wants to be in the team in each session and it’s a joy, a pure joy, to have him.”

Holders Manchester City eased into the Champions League quarter-finals for a seventh successive season with a routine 3-1 win over FC Copenhagen.

Early Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez goals put City on their way and the prolific Erling Haaland netted his 29th of the season as Pep Guardiola’s side completed a 6-2 aggregate success at the Etihad Stadium.

Copenhagen showed some spirit and pulled one back through former Southampton player Mohamed Elyounoussi but there was never any doubt City would be going through to the last eight.

It was a game played largely at a slow tempo as City, bidding to win unprecedented back-to-back trebles, conserved energy for bigger challenges ahead.

Guardiola made seven changes from the side that beat Manchester United in Sunday’s derby with match-winner Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, John Stones and Bernardo Silva among those on the bench.

That suggested Guardiola already had half an eye on this weekend’s crunch Premier League trip to Liverpool and his selection was vindicated inside five minutes as Akanji volleyed them ahead.

The defender went forward for a corner and was almost nonchalant in the way he swung out his boot to meet Alvarez’s cross with a sweet strike.

Alvarez doubled the lead four minutes later after a calamitous error by goalkeeper Kamil Grabara, who had been one of the Danes’ stand-out players in the first leg.

Alvarez first picked out Rodri, who thumped a header against the bar. The ball was half-cleared and the Argentinian picked up possession again but this time curled in a shot.

Grabara should have claimed but the ball slipped through his fingers and into the net.

After completely dominating the meeting between the sides in Denmark last month without putting the matter beyond doubt, City appeared to have finished the job in quick fashion.

Yet for all their dominance and control of possession, the hosts were caught out by a rare Copenhagen break on the half-hour.

Defence was turned into attack as Elyounoussi broke down the left, found Orri Oskarsson inside the box and then took his backheel return to slot a fine goal beyond Ederson.

That at least gave Copenhagen’s vociferous following something to savour but City were hardly unsettled.

Haaland restored a two-goal advantage on the night on the stroke of half-time when he controlled a lofted Rodri pass, cut inside and then buried a low shot inside the near post.

City eased off in the second half and cruised towards the final whistle.

To their credit, Copenhagen, as manager Jacob Neestrup had promised, refused to throw in the towel and, despite seeing little of the ball, did manage to piece together some attacks.

Substitute Magnus Mattsson even tested Ederson with a sharp shot on the turn and Elyounoussi blasted over.

City almost added another in stoppage time when Rico Lewis hit the bar.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged Jack Grealish to seize an opportunity to finish the season strongly.

The England midfielder has so far this term been unable to reproduce the influential form he played in last year’s treble success.

The 28-year-old’s campaign has twice been interrupted by injury and there was also an unsettling off-field incident when his house was burgled while members of his family and girlfriend were in the property.

His latest setback came when he suffered a groin injury during City’s Champions League game at FC Copenhagen earlier this month but, after a speedy recovery, he was an unused substitute at Bournemouth on Saturday.

He could come back into the reckoning for Tuesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Luton and Guardiola hopes he can make the most of it.

Guardiola said: “He started a bit late but (in) the last month Jack is back in terms of many things.

“That’s why he played an important game in the Champions League in Copenhagen. Unfortunately there was a setback after 10-15 minutes but he’s recovered quick and he is back.

“Hopefully (he can have) the impact he had last season. It depends on him.

“I try to be fair with my decisions. If he played a lot of minutes last season and this season a little bit less in the beginning, he is the same player. It’s the same manager, the same way we want to play. Nothing has changed.

“It is just how how we perform, that is the difference. We need him. I’ve said from day one we need him. He has a special quality for our team. Hopefully he can do a good last three months.”

With other players in good form, however, Guardiola admits Grealish will have to hit the ground running when the chance arises.

Grealish must compete with the likes of Phil Foden, Jeremy Doku, Julian Alvarez and Bernardo Silva, all of whom have been in better form this season, for a place.

Guardiola said: “I cannot give three or four games in a row in order to get the rhythm.

“They have to take a rhythm to play 20 minutes, 90 minutes, in the high level. You cannot wait.

“I’m going to give you three or four (games) for you be fit and the other 10 players don’t play?

“They don’t deserve the same? Of course they deserve it but that’s not how it works.

“You have to see in the training session, every moment all details.

“He’s the same lovely person, lovely guy, same qualities, skills. He has even more years to improve.

“So the players don’t have to convince me. They have to convince themselves that they deserve to play.”

Phil Foden feels he is in the form of his life as he eyes a second successive treble with Manchester City.

The England midfielder stepped up in the injury-enforced absence of Kevin De Bruyne to thrive in a central role in numerous games in the first half of the season.

De Bruyne’s return to action over the past month has seen Foden’s position vary since but his performance levels have rarely dipped.

Playing alongside De Bruyne, the 23-year-old again excelled in Tuesday’s Champions League victory at FC Copenhagen, capping a fine display with an eighth goal in 10 outings.

“I think it’s the most run of games that I’ve played in a City shirt consistently,” said Foden. “I’m in good form, scoring consistently and helping the team as much as I can and I’m delighted with that.

“I want to keep doing that, that’s the goal every game. I’d say I’m playing my best football in a City shirt.”

Foden has been touted for big things since he was in City’s junior ranks but it is now over six years since he made his senior debut.

When prolific striker Erling Haaland joined De Bruyne on the sidelines in December, Foden felt it was time he took responsibility.

“I think I had to,” said Foden, who scored a hat-trick in last week’s Premier League win at Brentford. “They are two massive players for us, so key last year for us winning the treble. It was time for me to step up.”

City’s 3-1 win in Copenhagen in the first leg of their last-16 tie was their 11th in succession in all competitions.

They are strongly fancied to defend all three of the major trophies they won last season and Foden has no doubt the team have the hunger to do so.

He said: “We’re showing that we’re still determined and playing the same football as last year and still wanting to win all the games. Hopefully that continues and we don’t drop our level or form.

“We’re focused. We stick by each other and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this team. I look around the dressing room and I still see the determination and hunger.”

Foden has made no secret of his preference to play in a central position, something which became a matter of national debate earlier this season when England manager Gareth Southgate selected him in a wide role.

Foden said: “I’ve said previously that I prefer to play in the middle but I’ll do a job wherever the manager puts me. Tuesday I was out wide, and I got a goal and an assist. I’m delighted.”

Manchester City resumed their Champions League defence with a comfortable 3-1 win at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva netted either side of an unexpected Magnus Mattson equaliser as City dominated a last-16 first leg they could have won far more convincingly.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated in every aspect at the Danish capital’s famously atmospheric Parken Stadium and Phil Foden completed a deserved success late on.

With close to 80 per cent possession, the holders were hardly troubled and will be confident of wrapping up a place in the quarter-finals when the sides meet again in Manchester in three weeks.

The only real downside for City was the loss of Jack Grealish through injury in the first half.

Despite having almost complete control, one thing City could not do was silence the home fans.

As anticipated, Copenhagen’s raucous following produced an intimidating atmosphere and greeted every City attack with loud whistles and even a siren.

Yet it appeared to have no effect on City, who immediately imposed themselves and should have taken the lead when De Bruyne fluffed a header from a Nathan Ake cross.

Ruben Dias also forced a save from Kamil Grabara and Ake fired the rebound over, although a raised flag suggested neither might have counted.

Copenhagen, their rustiness amid Denmark’s long winter break evident, were struggling to live with City and it came as no surprise when De Bruyne hit his 11th-minute opener.

The Belgian, who has quickly eased back into gear after a long injury lay-off, timed his run onto a Foden pass superbly and finished clinically with a low shot.

City looked hungry for more and Erling Haaland was inches away from meeting a De Bruyne cross before a Silva ball was deflected onto the woodwork by Denis Vavro.

City suffered a blow when Grealish, making his first start in six games, was forced off after 21 minutes soon after a challenge from Diogo Goncalves but his replacement Jeremy Doku added more energy to City’s attack.

Within moments of coming on Doku set up Haaland for what would have been a spectacular goal with a volleyed cross but the Norwegian’s overhead kick flew over.

City looked capable of running up a huge score but remarkably found themselves level when Ederson gifted the hosts an equaliser on 34 minutes.

The goalkeeper passed straight to Mohamed Elyounoussi and, although the former Southampton forward’s shot was blocked, debutant Mattson followed up with a fine finish.

Mattson, a recent signing from NEC Nijmegen, almost added another soon after but blazed over.

The home fans were animated but their excitement was not to last.

Silva restored normal order before the break with a fine flicked finish after De Bruyne got the better of Mattson to pick out the Portuguese.

De Bruyne almost added to the lead early in the second half when he tested Grabara before Haaland headed tamely at the keeper and Foden had an effort deflected wide.

Grabara also pushed away a long-range Doku strike and Haaland was twice denied by the keeper in stoppage time before Foden wrapped up the win after exchanging passes with De Bruyne.

Phil Foden believes the Premier League title race will go to the wire this season.

The England midfielder scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 3-1 win at Brentford on Monday night.

It was a potentially pivotal victory which lifted City above Arsenal into second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

“It’s going to be tight one. Liverpool and Arsenal are two top teams doing really well,” said Foden.

“They are going to push us until the end so we have to try and not drop points and try to win all of our games really.”

City fell behind against the run of play when Neal Maupay fired Brentford into the lead.

But Foden finally beat inspired Bees goalkeeper Mark Flekken to haul his side level before the interval.

The 23-year-old headed them in front early in the second half from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, and then completed a stylish treble to ensure City’s title destiny is firmly in their own hands.

The treble winners also trailed in away matches against Everton and Newcastle recently, but Foden says they are beginning to show their mettle by coming back to win each time.

“Resilience. We keep proving it season after season,” he told the club website.

“We keep surprising everyone by keeping our standards high and it’s down to the manager and this fantastic group of players.

“It’s the togetherness, when things aren’t going right, to bounce back.”

Nerves are starting to jangle at Brentford, who have lost seven of their last eight matches and lie just three points above the relegation zone.

The fixture list does not offer much respite with City – again – Liverpool and Arsenal all on the schedule in the next few weeks.

But boss Thomas Frank is looking no further ahead than Saturday’s trip to Wolves.

“I’m always looking just one game ahead; that’s where our maximum focus is,” he said.

“It’s the same top focus on the next game. Every game we will have a very good chance to win it and that will be the same on Saturday.”

Pep Guardiola hailed Kevin De Bruyne as exceptional and unique after his impressive return to action in Manchester City’s FA Cup stroll against Huddersfield.

The Belgian playmaker appeared as a 57th-minute substitute and set up a goal as the holders breezed past the Championship strugglers 5-0 in a one-sided third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

It was De Bruyne’s first outing in five months after a long lay-off following hamstring surgery and his comeback is timely as City step up the intensity for the second half of the campaign.

City manager Guardiola said: “He played really good minutes. We thought it was better to play the second half than from the beginning when the game was tighter.

“It was so difficult to find space. They defended so so deep and were really well organised, compact.

“It was really good and now, as I said before, he needs to accumulate training sessions and more training sessions, more than games. Still he is not ready for 90 minutes.

“Kevin helps to win games and there are few (like him) in the world. We can play good football-wise but Kevin, (Erling) Haaland, Phil (Foden), Julian (Alvarez) – these guys win games.

“That’s why it’s so important to have him back. Kevin is exceptional, he is unique.

“He was a long time out with surgery. His first minutes, the quality of the assist for the Jeremy (Doku) goal – it’s really good to have him back.”

De Bruyne put the seal on City’s performance by teeing up City’s fifth goal for Doku, who was also making his return from injury.

Foden had already struck twice with Alvarez also on target and City benefiting from a Ben Jackson own goal.

Haaland was again absent through injury but, with a lighter schedule this month, Guardiola is hoping to get all his top names back as treble winners City again chase glory on three fronts.

He said: “What I want is to arrive in the second part of the season with everyone fit. I want Erling back, Kevin back, Jeremy and John (Stones). When they are back we have a team that can compete in different competitions until the end.”

Huddersfield manager Darren Moore hopes his side will learn from a difficult experience.

Moore said: “It was always going to be a tough game. We tried to come here and nullify the areas where Man City are excellent in and thought we did that to start off with.

“You have to try and start on a positive note and disrupt their passing rhythm, but when the first goal goes in and then there is quickfire second one, the game runs away from you a bit.

“The boys were just talking about the quality they were coming up against. Sometimes in moments of defeat it about the learning perspective and that is what we have taken from today.”

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