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Phil Foden savours thrilling Manchester City fightback after ‘worst’ first half

Phil Foden, left, inspired Manchester City’s fightback (David Davies/PA)
Phil Foden, left, inspired Manchester City’s fightback (David Davies/PA)

Phil Foden felt Manchester City were at their worst before recovering from 2-0 down to secure top spot in their Champions League group with a 3-2 win over Leipzig.

The holders trailed to two breakaway Lois Openda goals at half-time of Tuesday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Foden sparked their recovery after the interval, teeing up goals for Erling Haaland and substitute Jeremy Doku either side of scoring a sublime effort himself.

The England midfielder told TNT Sports: “First half was the worst I’ve seen us. Courage and motivation courage changed it around. This team has great mentality and it’s so nice to see.

“We just needed that goal to get going. Even the fans were a lot louder after the goal. Once the first went in the motivation was there. We’ve got a great record at the Etihad and it only takes one goal to change things.”

City’s victory not only made certain of preferential seeding in the last 16 for a seventh successive season but extended their English record unbeaten run in European competition to 19 games.

Manager Pep Guardiola was pleased with that achievement but admitted concern about the performance.

The Spaniard said: “If we talk about the qualification it is a great night. If we talk about the game, we could do better.

Pep Guardiola, right, talks to his players during Manchester City's win over RB Leipzig
Pep Guardiola, right, talks to his players during Manchester City’s win over RB Leipzig (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Sloppy goals – in football you have to win duels and it was quite similar against Chelsea. We were solid and now we’ve had two warnings already.

“It’s the same up front. We’ve had chances and missed them.

“But maybe for the future it’s good to win not comfortably, to show we are able to make a comeback.

“When we scored early in the second half, 45 minutes was a long time for them. It was not easy because they defended really well and they were strong, but we are there.

“Now we have five days to recover for the game against Spurs.”

Leipzig’s display was a huge improvement on their 7-0 loss at the same venue last season and coach Marco Rose felt his side were unfortunate not to get more from the game.

Marco Rose, right, greets Pep Guardiola pre-match
Marco Rose, right, rued making Manchester City ‘angry’ (Dave Thompson/AP)

Rose said: “We knew we made them angry in the first half. It got more difficult.

“If we kept the clean sheet a little bit longer, maybe then the chance would become bigger and bigger to win or to take something home, but at the end you need a little bit of luck and that is what we missed maybe.

“We played a really good game, but this is City.”