Foden’s fireworks put an end to Man City’s curse in the quarterfinals
Before the start of the second round of the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Manchester City against Borussia Dortmund, local fans in the German city lit fireworks last night in hopes of disturbing the visitors ’sleep.
On Wednesday, it was Phil Foden who sparked a spree in Signal-Iduna Park, aiming to create moving celebrations as City finally ended the quarter-final curse under Pep Guardiola under the command of the Spaniard for the first time in the competition.
Make no mistake. However, it was another night when nerves were dashed after Foden’s younger England teammate Jude Bellingham threatened to add another chapter to the City’s European heart.
Small margins have cost the City over the past three years, and they were heading into the fourth quarter-final exit in a row, after 17 years at Bellingham’s magnificent and breathtaking performance as Dortmund were thrown out to take the lead in the first half.
City needed his goal, and he was literally given a save when Foden’s cross hit Emre Can’s arm in the 55th minute.
When Riyad Mahrez kicked the point, frozen Kevin De Bruyne was also seen biting his nails. Similar scenes were happening in the living rooms of Manchester, for sure.
City have lost nine of their last 25 penalties, and Mahrez’s almost vicious effort to clear the game against Liverpool at Anfield Road in 2018 remains rooted in the memories of most City fans.
However, the Algerian international player was brave, and this time too he made no mistake by overcoming goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.
The relief was almost visible on City’s legs, and from then on there would be only one winner in the night and draw.
Foden gave City a major advantage in the first leg with a last-minute strike, and secured victory here with a low 20-meter strike as he got close to the post.
The 20-year-old – who is only the second player under the age of 21 on both legs of the Champions League quarter-final tie after Kylian Mbappe – was utterly horrified as City lined up again without recognizing the striker.
Although the Premier League leaders remain the only team in the Champions League unstoppable, it was far from a comfortable night, especially given the dynamic Bellingham.
Guardiola’s expectations have doubled in the last three seasons at this stage Guardiola’s hopes ended this stage in 2018 and 2019 after a defeat against Liverpool and Tottenham.
This time it was an Englishman – or rather an English teenager – that gave them a real scare.
Former Birmingham City midfielder Bellingham fired in a superb shot The youngest English player to score in the Champions League and the second youngest of any nationality to find a net in a knockout round.
He was denied a goal in the first leg of the match at the Etihad Stadium. but nothing could give Dortmund a 15-minute advantage, not even a hand from Ederson.
Haaland, who had been silent all night, lost to John Stones with a long ball from Can, and when he finally found the ball on his way to Bellingham, he fired a shot into the top corner.
De Bruyne almost responded when he squeezed the crossbar from the edge of the box before Bellingham pushed Mahrez’s shot away, as his little effort went towards the goalkeeper as City came in behind the break.
But Mahrez took advantage of his big moment after the restart, and Foden made sure he didn’t come back.
The city’s fourfold dream lives on until Saturday’s FA Cup final, at least against Chelsea, with Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe and Neymar waiting to see when the Champions League resumes in late April.
Guardiola may have been sleeping in the fireplace outside the hotel room in the early hours of Wednesday night.
But it won’t fail Foden’s way of illuminating a memorable Champions League night in City history.