City returned to second place in the Premier League after defeating host Brentford 3-1 in round 23, bringing the winning streak to eight matches.
Midfielder Kevin de Bruyne and striker Erling Haaland both returned to the starting lineup, but Phil Foden was the main character on the Gtech Community field. The English midfielder equalized at the end of the first half before scoring two more goals in the second half from assists from De Bruyne and Haaland. The eighth consecutive victory helped Pep Guardiola’s team return to second place with a game in hand.
Foden celebrates scoring against Brentford at Gtech Community Stadium, West London, in round 23 of the Premier League on the evening of February 5, 2024. Photo: Reuters
Last season, Manchester City lost both matches against Brentford. This time, they continued to have difficulty against this opponent in the first half. In the 21st minute, the home team opened the score after a long flick from Dutch goalkeeper Mark Flekken, allowing striker Neal Maupay to escape and shoot a low cross-angle shot facing Ederson.
Not only did he create, Flekken also made beautiful saves in the first half, from Kyle Walker’s shot from over 30 meters away, a face-off with Haaland, or Josko Gvardiol’s shot into the top corner. He saved nine times in just the first 45 minutes.
However, Brentford’s defense frustrated their own goalkeeper. In the third minute of injury, De Bruyne crossed the ball from the right into the penalty area, but midfielder Ethan Pinnock did not clear the ball well. Foden comfortably held his chest right in the penalty area, then shot low to the near corner, too difficult for Flekken to save again.
Goalkeeper Mark Flekken used his foot to block Erling Haaland’s shot in a face-to-face position. Photo: PA
At the beginning of the second half, De Bruyne still had space to cross from the right, allowing Foden to head in unmarked, increasing the score to 2-1 for Manchester City. This time, Flekken got his hands on the ball but still couldn’t save. In the away area, they started singing, “Oh, Kevin de Bruyne.”. The Belgian midfielder scored his fourth goal in just four Premier League matches this season.
It was not easy for Manchester City to maintain the gap, as they needed midfielders Ruben Dias and Gvardiol to save the day on the goal line for just two consecutive minutes. Their victory was only guaranteed in the 70th minute. Rodri received the ball in the middle and passed straight to the front of the penalty area for Haaland to release a touch just in range of Foden rushing down. The England midfielder pushed the ball past the Brentford players, then shot low into the near corner in a face-to-face position, sealing a 3-1 victory. This is the second hat-trick in Foden’s career, after the first in the Manchester derby in October 2022.
The away team shot the goal 15 times in this match, the most in the Premier League in the past six years. However, Brentford is still the only team Haaland has not been able to score for in the Premier League among the clubs he has met. The important thing is that Manchester City overcomes their annoying opponent, maintains their winning streak, and it is unknown when they will be stopped.
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