UEFA Champions League English

Foden outshines Bellingham and hands Man City advantage over Real Madrid

Phil Foden hands down won the battle between two of England’s brightest stars to give Manchester City the edge after an enthralling Champions League quarter-final, first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid that ended 3-3.

The game was proliferated with stunning strikes, with none better than Foden’s smashing slammer into the top corner to haul City level at 2-2 midway through the second half.

Further missiles from Josko Gvardiol and Federico Valverde further set the stage for a massive showdown at the Bernabeu.

City are understandably feeling confident thanks to a stellar home record in the Champions League that includes hitting Madrid for four in each of the past two seasons.

More importantly, Pep Guardiola’s men are unbeaten in their last 30 home Champions League games, stretching back to 2018.

A tighter tiei s anticipated this season thanks largely to Jude Bellingham’s spectacular debut season in Spain, after the immensely talented 20-year-old rejected the advances of City and other Premier League giants to return to his homeland but opted instead for the Bernabeu.

However his hot streak in front of goal seems to have cooled off noticeably just when his English counterpart Foden is hitting scintillating form this season.

Bellingham was lucky to escape without a suspension as he vented out his frustration at some perceived rough treatment on Ruben Dias in the first half, as a booking would have ruled him out of the second leg.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker’s one big chance to plunge the dagger into City’s defence of their Champions League title arrived early in the second half with Madrid leading 2-1.

Having out-maneuvred Bernardo Silva with a deft twist, nonetheless he failed to find the far corner on his weaker left foot.

By contrast – Foden with his lethal left foot – made Madrid pay for leaving him too much space on the edge of the box to fire into the top corner for his 22nd goal of the season.

“I just felt this sweet connection,” Foden told TNT Sports.

“It’s something I always practice in training where you receive it on the edge of the box and thankfully today I saw it go into the top corner.”

Only yet 23, Foden already has a medal haul most footballers can only dream of. Obviously his prime years are still ahead of him as he shone brilliantly on a night City needed him without their talismanic Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian had taken his place on the bench but had fallen ill in the hours before kick-off to force Guardiola into a late change of plans.

Fortunately for City, Foden has been effectively thrust into filling the huge void left by De Bruyne for much of this season in an injury-hit campaign for the 32-year-old Belgian.

“He has this spark,” added Guardiola. “This incredible talent, to score goals, to create something, it is the truth.”

Foden has often been a victim of his own versatility for most of his career, having numerous occasions been forced out of a central role to accommodate others. Case in point is Bellingham’s rise to stardom leaving Foden to play second fiddle at international level as well as at City where De Bruyne occupies the main role of playmaker.

But it is now clearly his time to be hailed as the creative hub for both club and country, especially with England among the favorites for Euro 2024 and Manchester City intent on claiming the Treble a second time.