EPL

Phil Foden fires Man City to victory with superb hat-trick against Aston Villa

By Sports Desk April 03, 2024

Phil Foden scored a brilliant hat-trick as Manchester City kept the pressure on in the Premier League title race with a 4-1 win over Champions League-chasing Aston Villa.

A day after defending his star striker against criticism from Roy Keane, Pep Guardiola left Erling Haaland on the bench alongside Kevin De Bruyne, clearing the stage for Foden to grab the spotlight with an outstanding performance and his second hat-trick of the campaign.

After Jhon Duran cancelled out Rodri’s opener, the 23-year-old put City back in front with a free-kick late in the first half before two excellent strikes settled it just after the hour mark, taking Foden to 21 City goals for the season.

Pep Guardiola’s side remain third, a point behind leaders Arsenal and level with Liverpool – who host Sheffield United on Thursday – after their first win over a top-five side this term.

But while little has changed in the table, this was a far more fluid performance from the champions days after Arsenal ended their run of 57 consecutive home games with a goal.

The decision to leave out De Bruyne and Haaland was made with next week’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid looming, but neither have been at their best since coming back from injury in recent weeks.

Jack Grealish and Jeremy Doku came in to play on the wings and Foden shifted inside, from where he would orchestrate City’s win.

Villa, already without the injured Ollie Watkins, had to replace goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez due to illness just before kick-off and stand-in Robin Olsen was soon picking the ball out of his net.

Foden fed Doku on the right and the Belgian cut it back for Rodri to sweep home his eighth goal of the season after 11 minutes.

City’s lead lasted only nine minutes before Villa drew level with an excellent counter-attack. Julian Alvarez lost the ball on the edge of the Villa box and the visitors swept forward before Duran played a quick one-two with Morgan Rogers and fired across Stefan Ortega’s goal into the far corner.

After Jack Grealish – booed constantly by his old fans in the Villa end – was booked for dissent when a free-kick went in Douglas Luiz’s favour, Olsen made a fine save with his right boot to deny Alvarez.

Luiz was living dangerously late in the first half. Already booked for bringing down Grealish on the edge of the area, he then fouled Foden in an almost identical spot in first-half stoppage time.

Darren England kept his cards in his pocket but Villa were punished anyway as Foden found a gap in the wall left by Nicolo Zaniolo to beat Olsen.

There was still time for Alvarez to go close twice before half-time, with Olsen tipping a close-range header over the crossbar, and the goalkeeper was busy again at the start of the second half, denying Bernardo Silva after Foden’s neat pass left him one-on-one.

Villa threatened on the break as Luiz drove forward and hit a shot that was tipped over by Ortega, who then denied Clement Lenglet from the resulting corner.

But Foden would soon settle the match. In the 62nd minute Rodri rode Moussa Diaby’s challenge and rolled the ball inside for Foden to beat Olsen with a first-time shot into the bottom right corner.

Lewis lashed a shot narrowly wide but the killer fourth goal arrived in the 69th minute. The chance appeared to have gone when Foden lost the ball on the edge of the Villa area, but Calum Chambers scuffed his clearance straight back to Foden, and he lashed a shot into the top right corner.

Related items

  • Ten Hag concedes Man Utd's Premier League finish 'not good enough by far' Ten Hag concedes Man Utd's Premier League finish 'not good enough by far'

    Erik ten Hag conceded Manchester United's season was "not good enough by far" after the Red Devils recorded their lowest Premier League finish in eighth place.

    United concluded their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion, with second-half goals from Diogo Dalot and Rasmus Hojlund sealing the points at the American Express Stadium.

    Nevertheless, Ten Hag's side finished three points behind sixth-placed Chelsea and will subsequently miss out on European football for the first time in 10 years, unless they beat Manchester City in next week's FA Cup final.

    And the Dutchman, who insisted his players "will fight for the cup" at Wembley, pulled no punches in his assessment of United's season.

    "It is not good enough by far," he told Match of the Day. "Although we had less than 60 points two years ago [58 points in 2021-22], eighth is the worst performance. We should have done better.

    "We know the reasons behind it, but it is not the right moment to go into it. It’s not good enough."

    On the win over Brighton, he added: "The first half was too static. We changed something at half-time, and after that we had more control. 

    "We had a lot of problems defending Joao Pedro in the first half, but then we had more control, and we were better on the ball. In the end, the win is OK."

  • Havertz: Arsenal deserved more than finishing second Havertz: Arsenal deserved more than finishing second

    Kai Havertz believes Arsenal deserve more after they were pipped to the Premier League title by Manchester City.

    Arsenal knew they needed to beat Everton in the final game of the season and hope City slipped up at home to West Ham, but though Havertz netted an 89th-minute winner to see off the Toffees 2-1, Pep Guardiola's men ran out 3-1 victors over the Hammers.

    City claim a fourth straight Premier League title, while Arsenal finish second again having also finished runners-up last season.

    Havertz was left disappointed after the game, believing Arsenal's efforts throughout the campaign warranted a first Premier League crown in 20 years.

    Havertz told TNT Sports "What can I say? I feel sorry for all the Arsenal fans. We gave our best but it wasn't enough.

    "Maybe in two or three months we can say it was a good fight. Right now, I feel like we deserve more. It wasn't enough in the end but we go again next year."

    Havertz's goal against Everton was his 13th of the league campaign, with no German scoring more in a 20-team Premier League season.

    After a tough start to life in an Arsenal shirt since joining from Chelsea, Havertz has enjoyed a strong end to the campaign.

    Havertz was proud of his and his team-mates' efforts, saying: "We showed great character again, they [Everton] didn't make it easy for us. They took time with every throw and every ball. In my opinion it's sometimes not fair in football but we have to accept that football is hard.

    "Hopefully we can go again next year and give Arsenal fans what they need and what they're all here for."

    When asked if he had a message for Gunners fans, Havertz stated: "Right now, I can't even think. It's just so frustrating. It's tough.

    "I can tell them next year that we're going to be an even better team and we're going to give everything again. That's all I can say."

  • De Bruyne ranks comeback title triumph among most special moments De Bruyne ranks comeback title triumph among most special moments

    Kevin De Bruyne ranks his sixth Premier League title triumph as one of his most special, having fought back from injury to help Manchester City make history.

    City became the first team to win four English top-flight titles in a row on Sunday, with Phil Foden scoring twice and Rodri also on target in a 3-1 final-day win over West Ham.

    That result ensured they edged out Arsenal by two points at the summit, despite the Gunners fighting back from 1-0 down to beat Everton 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

    De Bruyne finished with four goals and 10 assists in just 18 Premier League appearances in 2023-24, having suffered a hamstring injury against Burnley on the opening matchday that kept him out until January.

    Speaking to Sky Sports in the aftermath of City's trophy presentation, De Bruyne said: "It feels as special as the first one, to do something historic is amazing.

    "For me this is one of my most special. I had a tough year, being out for six months, but then to come back in the way I could, to help the team win and be at a good level, it was a great achievement personally."

    De Bruyne's comeback came in a 3-2 win at Newcastle United in January, when he came off the bench to score City's equaliser and supply a sensational pass for Oscar Bobb's last-gasp winner.

    He believes that game was something of a turning point in the campaign, saying: "I can't speak for the team but for me it was like a perfect kickstart. 

    "I'm just happy that I came back in a run where I could help the team. They had done a great job in the first half of the season, and we're here again. 

    "The manager sets the tone but this team… we just enjoy playing with each other. It's not a team with big egos, we run like crazy, we want to perform well and we just enjoy it."

    City have now gone unbeaten through their last 35 games in all competitions (29 wins, six draws), the longest run ever by a Premier League team, and they could yet secure a double as they face Manchester United in next week's FA Cup final.

    Only Nottingham Forest, who went 40 without defeat between March and November 1978, have ever enjoyed a longer streak in English top-flight history.

    Speaking alongside De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva was asked which of his six title triumphs meant the most to him.

    "All of them, but the first one is always the most special," he said. "Obviously doing four in a row, something that was never done before, is unbelievable.

    "The margins are so small. We beat Liverpool in two seasons by one point, then Arsenal this season by two points, we've been lucky enough to have these small margins.

    "Four in a row is such a special achievement. We're so, so proud, and so happy."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.