Sun, 18 Aug 2019

'I'm a genius': Guardiola quips after Spurs win

News24
21 Apr 2019, 05:42 GMT+10

Manchester - Pep Guardiola hailed his decision to hand Phil Foden just a second Premier League start as the 19-year-old scored the only goal in Manchester City's 1-0 win over Tottenham to exact some revenge on their Champions league conquerors.

Victory keeps the league title in City's hands as Guardiola's men edge one point ahead of Liverpool with four games of a titanic title race left for both sides.

Guardiola's team selection for the first leg of his side's Champions League quarter-final against Tottenham, that ended in a 1-0 defeat, was criticised as, despite winning a thrilling second leg 4-3 on Wednesday, the English champions bowed out on away goals.

The omission of Kevin de Bruyne, and inclusion of Fabian Delph, for the first leg was even more questioned after the Belgian created a hat-trick of assists in midweek.

However, Guardiola's reasoning for being cautious with his playmaker after an injury-plagued season seemed to have been justified as De Bruyne limped off again just before the break and may well miss the rest of the campaign.

In his absence, Foden may have a big part to play in City's remaining five games as they remain on course to complete the first ever domestic treble in English football.

"Now I am a genius," Guardiola said with a hint of sarcasm. "He scored a goal. How good is the manager?

"And after playing Delph in London (I) was a disaster, that's how it works.

"Phil is an incredibly talented player. Every time he plays he scores a goal or has the chances."

For all their Champions League heroics, Tottenham still have much to do to qualify for the competition next season as they could easily end the Easter weekend outside the top four should Arsenal and Chelsea beat Crystal Palace and Burnley at home.

Spurs, though, appear to have an easier run-in than their London rivals, or Manchester United, who host City in another huge match with implications for both the title race and the top four on Wednesday.

City have made a habit of starting fast this season and just as in midweek when they scored early to kickstart a kamikaze encounter, they struck within five minutes.

Foden immediately justified Guardiola's faith by heading home Sergio Aguero's nodded pass across goal from Bernardo Silva's cross.

However, history could easily have repeated itself as after four goals were shared in the opening 11 minutes on Wednesday, Spurs had numerous chances to strike back.

Son Heung-min had already forced Ederson in a smart save from a narrow angle before City scored and the Brazilian goalkeeper had to rush from his goal once more to deny Christian Eriksen an equaliser on 15 minutes.

Eriksen then turned provider for Son to race in behind, but Aymeric Laporte recovered to make perfectly timed last-ditch tackle.

Son had another huge chance before the break when Ederson again narrowed the angle quickly to block.

"I think the man-of-the-match was Ederson," said Pochettino, whose side have now lost their last eight away games against English opposition.

"I think we deserved at least a draw. In very difficult circumstances, the performance was excellent."

Both sides suffered from their midweek exertions and the blazing sun as the second-half meandered along at a much more subdued pace.

The goal that took Spurs through in midweek was a controversial one as the ball struck Fernando Llorente's hand on its way into the net and was allowed to stand despite a VAR review.

But with no VAR in the Premier League, at the same end in front of the travelling support, a big call went City's way when Kyle Walker handled inside the area against his former club and escaped unpunished.

"I think it was a clear handball but I accept the decision not to give a penalty," added a magnanimous Pochettino.

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