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Media Watch: Critics hail Foden

OXFORD BLUE: Phil Foden celebrates after registering his first goal for Manchester City at Oxford in the Carabao Cup

OXFORD BLUE: Phil Foden celebrates after registering his first goal for Manchester City at Oxford in the Carabao Cup

One name dominates the headlines this morning after Manchester City’s Carabao Cup triumph away at Oxford United… Phil Foden.

Handed his first start of the season, the Stockport-born teenager and lifelong Blue delivered a sumptuous all-round display and rounded off his performance with his first goal for the Club to seal a 3-0 win.

In the immediate aftermath, Oxford boss Karl Robinson went so far as to say Foden’s display reminded him of former Barcelona and Spain legend Andres Iniesta.

And while Pep Guardiola was keen to play down such rarefied talk, the media are unanimous in their praise of how Foden seized his big opportunity and of the tantalising prospects his exciting emergence offers City.

For BBC Sport online’s chief football writer Phil McNulty, it was proof positive that the midfielder is in possession of a special talent.

McNulty writes: “Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to give Foden a rare start - and how he delivered.

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“And while the youngster's performance must be placed in the context of the opposition, Foden still showed enough touches of quality to hint at the bright future everyone at City expects.

“Foden, who many sound judges believe will be swiftly elevated to senior England status if he can force his way into City's team, was heavily involved throughout, his slight figure comfortable in possession and with enough of a turn of pace to drift through the crowded areas in midfield.

“He was always willing to take responsibility, knit play together and act as the fulcrum of City's team.

“It was fitting he provided the final flourish with that crisp left-foot drive that completed the formalities. It was richly deserved.

“Foden must fight his way past Guardiola's embarrassment of riches before he takes that next crucial step in his career but there is no question it will happen and his manager clearly has great faith in his ability.”

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Those warm words were echoed in the Daily Mail where Ian Herbert described Foden’s performance as one that should lift the hearts of not just of City's supporters but England's too.

Herbert scribed: “His slide across the Oxford turf in front of his own team's fans did not seem entirely in keeping with a cup tie which Manchester City had wrapped up long since. But it showed how much a first senior goal meant to Phil Foden.

“It will certainly be one for the collection in years to come: a sweet, diagonal, left-foot strike sent skimming across the grass into the far right-hand corner of the goal after the 18-year-old had taken a Raheem Sterling pass; the slightest touch of swerve as it went on its way.

“Taken with the assists Foden delivered for Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez, it was the best imaginable way to hammer on the first-team door, though there was more to it than that. 

“It is his balance and awareness of space which permits this young man, who had only 29 minutes of first-team football to his name, to leave his mark.

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“Some perspective is necessary. City's opponents made minimal imposition on this game and there will be far tougher challenges than this. Foden needs them because David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, when back from injury, are the ones who stand between him and a regular start.

“But his performance left Pep Guardiola holding out the notion that he and the England Under 17 World Cup-winner might remain a part of the club together for a decade.”

Likewise the Daily Telegraph had only praise for Foden’s shining talent with chief football writes Jason Burt joining in the chorus of admiration. 

Burt writes: “It was only a Carabao Cup tie against a side at the foot of League One but Phil Foden again provided a tantalising glimpse of his rich potential for club and country as Manchester City overcame Oxford United to reach the fourth round.

“Foden created two goals, with two brilliant, cutting passes and scored deep into injury-time – his first goal in his first start this season for City – but there was more to enjoy in the way the 18-year-old glided over the turf, surging forward.

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“Pep Guardiola later claimed that despite the club's huge ambition what he had already seen in Foden convinced him not to buy another attacking midfielder in the summer to add to his stellar squad. That was some statement.

“He’s one of our own,” sang the jubilant City fans as Foden knee-slid towards them, kissing the club badge, after his injury-time goal. At 18 years and 120 days he became the first player born since the turn of the millennium to score for City in any competition and that celebration also pleased Guardiola.”

Finally, the Manchester Evening News were also left spellbound by Foden’s display, with Dan O’Toole describing it as a real coming of age showing.

O’Toole wrote: “If ever there was a fear of Phil Foden stagnating at Manchester City, he reminded exactly why he is held in such high regard with a sublime performance in the Blues’ 3-0 Carabao Cup win against Oxford.

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“The 18-year-old had a hand in all three of City’s goals, opening his Blues account with the last, and it felt like a real coming of age for the talented academy graduate and confirmation he's now ready for the first-team on a regular basis.

“It was his pass for Brahim Diaz that unlocked a stubborn Oxford defence in the first half that led to Gabriel Jesus’ header, and his impeccably-weighted pass for Riyad Mahrez’s third goal in two City games was of the standard expected from Kevin De Bruyne in this City team.

“Foden was searching for a goal of his own in the last 15 minutes and showed a great deal of maturity in not allowing a couple of missed chances to send him off course, and when his maiden City goal did come it was one of the more sweetly-struck efforts that City fans will see this season.”

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