Comment and Analysis @nicholaspwright
Phil Foden's first start for Manchester City assessed
Last Updated: 07/12/17 10:35am
Phil Foden was billed as England's next big thing after helping the U17s to World Cup glory in India in October, so how did he fare against Shakhtar Donetsk on his first start for Manchester City?
The playmaker became the youngest English player ever to start a Champions League game at 17 years and 192 days, lining up in an unfamiliar left wing-back role as City were beaten 2-1.
It was a disappointing result for Pep Guardiola's side, but were there positives from Foden? We take a detailed look at his performance.
As it happened
7 – Foden gets his first meaningful touches of the game as he is involved in some neat interplay with Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane on the left flank.
10 – A first foray forward for Foden, who bursts free of his marker and plays a one-two with Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian’s return pass has too much on it, however. It bounces off Foden for a goal kick.
28 – Shakhtar winger Marlos pins Foden on the halfway line, before spinning away from him and bursting towards goal. A reminder, perhaps, that the youngster is not a naturally defensive player.
30 – Foden gets his first touch in the opposition box, collecting a cross from the right. He retains possession before finding Bernardo Silva, who wins a corner.
36 – Foden releases Sane on the left-hand side of the Shakhtar box. The German cuts the ball back to him, but there is too much power on it and Foden can’t control his first-time shot. It’s over the bar.
37 – A cross comes to the unmarked Foden in the Shakhtar box but he makes a mess of his shot, miskicking it into the turf before the hosts get the ball clear.
40 – Defensive complacency from Foden as he leaves Fred unmarked at the far post from Taison’s cross. He can’t get back into position quick enough but Eliaquim Malaga is there to make the block.
42 – Foden produces his best moment of the game, splitting Shakhtar’s defence with an incisive through ball for Jesus. The Brazilian attempts to round Andriy Pyatov, but the goalkeeper gets a foot to it to rescue the hosts.
47 – Another nice moment for Foden as he skips past a Shakhtar defender on the left and fires a low cross towards Jesus. The striker works it to Bernardo Silva but the hosts scramble the ball clear.
51 – City have men forward as the ball finds its way to Foden, but his side-footed cross is too close to Pryatov, who claims it with ease.
77 – Foden gets on the ball in his preferred central position for the first time but City’s attack breaks down before he makes his way back to the left flank.
- Foden attempted more crosses (five) than anyone else on the pitch at the Donbass Arena.
- Foden lost possession more times (18) than any of his Manchester City team-mates.
The manager's verdict
Pep Guardiola: "We started really well. We fought, I'm so pleased for Tosin (Adarabioyo), Brahim (Diaz) and Phil, how good they played in the Champions League against a real good team like Shakhtar Donetsk."
Foden had some awkward defensive moments but that's hardly surprising given he is a naturally attacking player who usually occupies the No 10 position. He was neat and tidy in possession and Guardiola will be encouraged by how he stuck to his task of hugging the touch line and bombing forward whenever possible.
There were glimpses of his undoubted quality, too. Foden's perfectly weighted through ball for Gabriel Jesus was probably City's best moment of the first half, and there was also some fine wing play shortly after half-time which showcased his speed and close control.
At the tender age of 17 and in a difficult game against tough opposition, this was overall an encouraging start.