Phil Foden fired Manchester City into a Champions League semi-final date with Paris Saint-Germain and wasted little time in signaling his relish at the showdown with French phenomenon Kylian Mbappe.
An ecstatic Foden charged over to hug his manager before being mobbed in the dugout following his 75th-minute winner at the Westfalenstadion. That came after 17-year-old England starlet Jude Bellingham had handed the hosts a shock lead after just 15 minutes, before a penalty from Riyad Mahrez shifted the initiative back to the visitors.
READ MORE: English starlets shine on both sides as Guardiola and Man City keep Champions League dream alive with win over Dortmund
For Foden, 20, his strike signaled his increasing clout in the City ranks – and he wasted no time sending a message to Mbappe, an arguably even more influential star in the PSG line-up set to face City in the last four.
“[Mbappe] are you ready,” Foden tweeted shortly after full-time in Germany, tagging his prolific 22-year-old rival and adding a handshake emoji.
On Tuesday, Mbappe and PSG had booked their spot in the semi-finals despite going down to a 1-0 defeat at home to defending champions Bayern Munich, with the French giants’ 3-2 win last week in Germany enough to see them advance on away goals.
Meanwhile, football fans in England hailed Guardiola’s mentorship of Foden and his precocious talent. Fears had been expressed in previous seasons that the Spaniard was using the young midfielder too sparingly for his own good.
This campaign, however, Foden has been trusted with far more game-time as he’s firmly emerged as the heir to the role vacated by City legend David Silva when he returned to Spain before the start of the season.
“Pep Guardiola’s management of Phil Foden has been perfect,” crowed one popular football account.
“It wasn’t so long ago that people were questioning whether or not he would get first-team minutes and now, at 20, he’s an absolutely pivotal cog in their first-team. It’s not all down to their bank balance.”
Pep Guardiola’s management of Phil Foden has been perfect. It wasn’t so long ago that people were questioning whether or not he would get first-team minutes and now, at 20, he’s an absolutely pivotal cog in their first-team. It’s not all down to their bank balance.
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) April 14, 2021
Can’t believe Guardiola came over here and carefully nurtured Phil Foden until he blossomed into one of the best midfielders in Europe. Where were the loan deals to Championship clubs???
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) April 14, 2021
Gary Lineker was among those to praise both Foden and Dortmund star Bellingham, who had dazzled despite defeat for his team.
“So exciting to see so many wonderful young players in our game,” wrote the England icon-turned-TV pundit.
And another young English star surely wraps it up for @ManCity. The brilliant @PhilFoden. So exciting to see so many wonderful young players in our game.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) April 14, 2021
In the other half of the draw, Real Madrid left Anfield with a 0-0 draw to book their place in the last four with a 3-1 aggregate win over Liverpool.
They will meet Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea team in their semi-final clash.
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This article originally appeared on RT Sport News