Manchester City might not be going to the Champions League semifinals, but the Sky Blues are still on track to claim a fourth English title in eight seasons after winning Saturday’s rematch with Tottenham Hotspur on Phil Foden’s first Premier League goal.
City and Tottenham met in Manchester for the second time in four days. The hosts also won on Wednesday in a Champions League match for the ages, but Tottenham advanced to the final four on away goals.
The two-leg elimination was a major blow for Pep Guardiola’s side, which has never won Europe’s top club competition and had prioritized that trophy above all else. But if there was any lingering disappointment, it wasn’t evident on Saturday. The victory sent City past Liverpool and back into the Premier League lead with four games left to play. It also heaped the pressure back on the Reds; Liverpool, which is looking for its first league crown in 30 years, must keep pace when they visit Cardiff City on Sunday.
Foden nodded the club he grew up supporting ahead just four minutes in, converting the eventual winner from the doorstep after Sergio Agüero found the 18-year-old lurking unmarked at the back post:
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 20, 2019
Given the short turnaround between the two matches, Guardiola and Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino each made a number of lineup changes from the midweek clash. Foden wasn’t even on City’s bench on Wednesday. Meantime, the Spurs manager started backup goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga in place of usual No. 1 Hugo Lloris, who is nursing what Pochettino described beforehand as a “muscle” injury. Gazzaniga made a brilliant second-half stop on Raheem Sterling to keep his team in the contest until the end, but City wasn’t about to lose this one.
As vital as the three points are for City, they came at a hefty price. Guardiola had to replace star winger Kevin De Bruyne shortly after Foden’s strike. De Bruyne appeared to re-injure the left knee that forced him to miss a string of games earlier this season.
The Belgian will be sorely missed on Wednesday, when City faces blood rival Manchester United in a match that will likely determine the title.
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