Before Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund, local fans in the German city had lit fireworks overnight in an attempt to disturb their visitors’ sleep.
But on Wednesday, it was Phil Foden who shone at Signal-Iduna Park, his goal sparking exciting celebrations as City finally ended their quarter-final curse with Pep Guardiola to reach the four quarter-finals of the competition for the first time with the Spaniard. .
Make no mistake, though: this was another nerve-racking night after Foden’s even younger England teammate Jude Bellingham threatened to add another chapter to City’s European heartbreak.
Tight margins have cost City the past three years, and they were heading for a fourth straight quarter-final outing after a brilliant and breathless performance by 17-year-old Bellingham, who saw him fire Dortmund by an advantage. in the first half you would have seen them through away goals.
City needed a goal of their own, and were literally given a lifeline when a Foden cross hit Emre Can’s arm in the 55th minute.
When Riyad Mahrez walked over to take the penalty, even the usually cold Kevin De Bruyne could be seen biting his nails. Similar scenes were taking place in Manchester living rooms, that’s for sure.
City have missed nine of their last 25 penalties, while Mahrez’s infamous effort that nearly cleared the Anfield Road stands against Liverpool in 2018 remains ingrained in the memory of most City fans.
However, the Algerian international was brave enough to step up here, and this time he made no mistake by smashing the ball into goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.
The relay was almost visible in City’s legs, and from then on there was only going to be one winner in the night, and in the tie.
Foden had given City a significant lead in the first leg with his last-minute hit, and he secured victory here with a 20-yard low blow that slammed into the nearest post.
The 20-year-old, the second player under 21 to score in both games of a Champions League quarter-final tie after Kylian Mbappé, was once again utterly fearless as City re-lined up without a recognized striker.
But while the Premier League leaders remain the only undefeated team left in the Champions League, this was far from a comfortable night, mainly due to dynamic Bellingham.
Twice in the last three seasons it was English teams that ended Guardiola’s hopes at this stage after defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
This time it was an Englishman – or rather an English teenager – who gave them a real scare.
The former Birmingham City Bellingham midfielder shot in a magnificent opener, becoming the youngest English player to score in the Champions League and the second youngest of any nationality to find the net in a knockout match.
Denied a goal due to a dubious referee decision in the first leg at Etihad Stadium, but nothing could stop him from giving Dortmund an advantage in the 15th minute, not even a hand from Ederson.
Haaland, who was silent throughout the night, briefly lost John Stones to Can’s long pass, and when the ball finally found its way to Bellingham, he coldly directed a shot into the top corner.
De Bruyne almost responded when he hit the crossbar from the edge of the area before Bellingham pulled away on a shot from Mahrez as his low effort headed towards goal as City came in from behind at half-time.
But Mahrez made the most of his big moment after the restart, and Foden made sure there was no comeback.
City’s quadruple dream lives on until Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at least, with Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappé and Neymar waiting for them when the Champions League resumes at the end of April.
Guardiola may have slept through the fireworks outside his hotel room in the early hours of Wednesday night.
But you won’t have missed the way Foden lit up a memorable Champions League night in City history.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.