Phil Foden hit his second career hat-trick to seal a 3-1 comeback victory at Brentford and move Manchester City within two points of the Premier League summit.

It looked like being a frustrating night when, after 20 minutes of City dominance, Neal Maupay put the hosts ahead midway through the first half.

However, Foden grabbed us a highly warranted equaliser on the stroke of half-time before heading us into the lead early in the second half at the Gtech Community Stadium.

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His night was complete when he raced through the middle and dispatched a cool finish to seal the three points and ensure he’d be taking the match ball home.

It is the fourth successive Premier League away match in which we have trailed before going on to claim all three points.

In fact, Pep Guardiola’s side have now won nine matches in a row across all competitions.

We have 49 points from 22 Premier League games and breathing down the neck of leaders Liverpool on 51 points from 23 matches.

There was more positive news at the beginning of a hectic February, with Erling Haaland making his first start in almost two months and Manuel Akanji returning to take his place on the bench.

What happened

After a brief bright Brentford start, we settled into our familiar rhythm, dominating the ball and spending most of the game in Brentford’s half.

On his first start in almost two months, Erling Haaland’s first involvement came in the seventh minute when he met a classic Kevin De Bruyne cutback with a sweeping right-footed shot that was destined for the goal if not for Ethan Pinnock’s knee.

The next shot in anger came soon afterwards, with Julian Alvarez curling a shot into the top corner and forcing an excellent diving stop from Mark Flekken.

It became a personal battle between the pair with Alvarez again testing the Dutch goalkeeper from range a few minutes later, but Flekken scrambled across his goal to divert a low shot wide.

A fierce Kyle Walker strike followed almost immediately but Flekken was again equal to it, this time diving to his right.

Despite all of that, it was Brentford who took the lead after 20 minutes.

With the help of a clever use of his body by Ivan Toney, a Flekken goal kick bypassed the entire City defence to send Neal Maupay through on goal.

The French striker kept his composure to beat Ederson and find the inside of the far post.

City almost had the equaliser just moments after the restart when a misplaced Vitaly Janelt pass sent Haaland through on goal, but our Norwegian’s finish was blocked by the outstretched right leg of Flekken.

Flekken was undoubtedly the star of the first half hour, with City continuously peppering his goal.

He was again forced into a diving stop in the 27th minute as Josko Gvardiol stepped onto a loose ball and fired with his right foot from 20 yards.

The hosts rallied, utilising their renowned expertise from set pieces to threaten a second goal.

However, City kept on coming with Phil Foden’s daisy cutter proving too hot to handle for Flekken and De Bruyne’s low curler forcing the goalkeeper into a low dive to his left.

The equaliser eventually came just seconds before the half-time whistle and it was no more than Pep Guardiola‘s side deserved.

Pinnock miscued his headed clearance of a De Bruyne cross straight to Foden, who chested it down and beat a wrong footed Flekken from around 10 yards out.

The turnaround was complete just seven minutes into the second half when a lengthy passing move ended with Kevin De Bruyne working a yard of space from the inside left position.

The Belgian curled the ball straight on to Foden’s head and our Academy graduate glanced it far enough into the corner that Flekken, despite a despairing dive, couldn’t keep it out.

Brentford carved a rare chance of their own on the hour as Christian Norgaard struck from the edge of the box but a brave Ruben Dias got in the way.

The three points were sealed with just over 20 minutes remaining when Foden latched on to a delicate Haaland lay off, burst beyond his marker and slid it under Flekken.

It marked the second career hat-trick for our home grown star after last season’s effort in the 6-3 derby demolition of Manchester United.

While City didn’t come too close to a fourth, there was never a risk of Brentford restoring parity and another successful night’s work was complete.


CITY XI: Ederson, Walker (C), Dias, Ake, Gvardiol, Rodrigo, Bernardo (Doku 71), De Bruyne, Alvarez, Foden, Haaland (Kovacic 86)

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Stones, Grealish, Akanji, Nunes, Bobb, Lewis

BRENTFORD XI: Flekken, Pinnock, Norgaard (c), Maupay (Baptiste 90), Jensen (Damsgaard 77), Reguilon (Ajer 79), Mee, Toney, Collins, Janelt (Yarmoliuk 76), Roerslev (Lewis-Potter 76)

Subs: Strakosha, Zanka, Brierley, Fredrick

Man of the Match

Phil FodenPep Guardiola was full of praise for the England international in his pre-match press conference.

The Catalan has been Foden’s only club coach in senior football and has seen how he has progressed from teenage hopeful into world class performer.

So when he says the biggest change he’s seen in Foden this season is how he contributes with important goals and assists, you have to take it seriously.

It was another decisive showing from our star Academy graduate, overcoming the frustration of a dominant first 45 minutes without reward to make the hosts pay with three composed finishes.

With 14 goals and nine assists already, there can be little doubting now that the 23-year-old is on course for his best season so far on a personal level.


Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken made 10 saves in the first half alone.

The Dutch international was equal to seemingly everything that Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker and Josko Gvardiol could throw at him.

Even when we went behind, there was no sense of panic in this City side.

We immediately returned to a usual game, creating chances from all of the pitch and were eventually rewarded with the equaliser and subsequently pulling ahead in the second half.

Being brave, committed and professional in difficult away assignments in the Premier League is not always about physically tussling with the opponent, it’s about having the confidence to believe in your process at all times.

That we have now been behind in our last four away Premier League games and come back to win all of them says so much about why this team is so successful.

Rodrigo’s year

It’s now exactly a year since Rodrigo last lost a Premier League game.

The Spaniard has played 35 times since the 5 February 2023 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur and gone unbeaten throughout that time.

It can never overstated simply how crucial the No.16’s impact is on everything Guardiola asks his team to do.

Pep Guardiola reaction

“They are so difficult they are an incredible team. We can just imagine how difficult it will be in a few weeks when we come back to the Etihad for our game in hand.

“A really tough opponent - I never saw a team in the set-pieces, corners, free-kicks, throw-ins. I’ve never seen a better team than this one.

“I think we deserve it but we were lucky to score too on the verge of half-time. But I think we made our best performance we have played against them since we are here, in terms of shots, and being present and in the end the quality. In terms of Phil, the vision from Kevin and in the end we were able to do it.”

Phil Foden reaction

“We know the quality they have.

“Toney is one of the best in aerial duels and last year they caused us problems. We knew the threat they had and they’re a fantastic team.

“We had to keep going and react and I think we did that really well. We controlled the full game. I’m delighted with the outcome of the game.”

“I’m really delighted with my performances at the moment. I’m playing a lot of minutes now and playing more inside now.

“This is the best form I’ve probably had in a City shirt for a long time consistently. Long may that continue and continue working hard on the training pitch and I’ll keep trying to get better.”

What it means

City move within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

We have now amassed 49 points from our 22 games so far, while Jurgen Klopp’s team have 51 from 23 matches. We’re level on points with Arsenal, who have also played 23 times.

What’s next

City welcome relegation threatened Everton to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 10 February for a 12:30 kick-off.

We last played the Toffees in December, winning 3-1 at Goodison Park in our first match after winning the FIFA Club World Cup.

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