MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Watching Manchester City’s Champions League slugfest against Tottenham, Phil Foden sensed his side’s energy-sapping exit could present an opportunity.
As a youngster in football’s costliest-assembled squad, the 18-year-old Foden has to be patient to get game time under Pep Guardiola.
“He said he will give me opportunities when the lads are a bit tired,” Foden said. “So I’m just waiting for that.”
When it came on Saturday against Tottenham — completing a trilogy of matches against the north London club since April 9 — Foden scored his first Premier League goal on only his second start.
It took Foden five minutes to head into the net, sealing a 1-0 victory that returned City to the top of the league, a point ahead of Liverpool with four games remaining.
“Phil is incredibly talented but we have to handle him in the right moment,” Guardiola said. “We needed his capacity to press high. He’s a guy who has the quality to arrive in the box. I trust a lot in him.”
Bernardo Silva was the architect of the goal, sending in a cross that Sergio Agüero nodded across the face of goal and Foden directed a powerful diving header into the net.
“It just felt it’s everything I have been working for since a kid,” Foden said.
In a squad transformed by Abu Dhabi wealth over 11 years, Foden is a connection with Manchester as the only locally born player in the lineup on Saturday after not even making the squad in the European game against Tottenham three days earlier.
Despite seeing fellow 2017 Under-17s World Cup winner Jadon Sancho leave City to gain first-time experience at Borussia Dortmund, Foden is determined to stick it out.
“It’s very difficult because obviously the team are all great lads and great players,” Foden said on Malaysian broadcaster Stadium Astro on the field after Saturday’s win. “I’m still 18 years old so there’s no rush really. … Everyone has their own plan. Some go, some stay and I see myself playing here in the future
“I love this club and I want to play for them in the future and forever.”
The immediate priority for City is wrapping up a treble by defending the Premier League and beating Watford in the FA Cup final next month, having already collected the League Cup.
City’s quest for a first European Cup was ended by Tottenham, which lost 4-3 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday but advanced on away goals with a 4-4 aggregate score.
Tottenham’s priority before facing Ajax in the Champions League semifinals is fortifying its place in the Premier League’s top four to ensure it has a place in Europe’s elite competition next season without having to win it.
After a fifth successive away league loss, third-place Tottenham is only one point ahead of London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.
“It is in our hands to be in the Champions League next season,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “Now it’s about trying to be strong and recovering the energy.”
CLOSE TO SAFETY
Ayoze Perez’s hat trick all but guaranteed Newcastle will remain in the Premier League next season after securing a 3-1 victory over Southampton.
Newcastle is 10 points clear of Cardiff in the relegation zone after a sixth win in the last seven home games in the league.
The tougher challenge for Newcastle could be keeping manager Rafa Benitez, who wants investment in the squad.
“Right now you see our position and we are not competing,” Benitez said. “We have to compete.”
Gerard Deulofeu scored twice to give Watford a 2-1 win at already relegated Huddersfield. Watford’s sixth win on the road this season kept the seventh-place team on course for its highest Premier League finish.
Brighton frustrated Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 0-0 draw to gain a key point in its scrap with Cardiff to avoid relegation.
Brighton is three points ahead of Cardiff, which occupies the final relegation place and hosts Liverpool on Sunday.
After starting with five successive losses, Scott Parker has a first victory as caretaker manager of already relegated Fulham.
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a penalty eight minutes into the second half after being brought down by Jack Simpson to clinch a 1-0 victory at Bournemouth.
Leicester twice came from behind to hold West Ham to a 2-2 draw.
Jamie Vardy’s close-range finish in the 67th minute canceled out Michail Antonio’s first-half header.
West Ham regained the lead in the 82nd when Lucas Perez tapped the ball in four minutes after coming on as a substitute but Harvey Barnes curled in his first Leicester goal in stoppage time.
Leicester is eighth in the standings, while West Ham is 11th.