Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Pep Guardiola hails 'brilliant' Phil Foden as Man City move into FA Cup quarter-finals

League Two Newport County's fairy-tale run over after 4-1 defeat at Rodney Parade

Pep Gaurdiola singled out midfielder Phil Foden for special praise following a two-goal salvo against Newport County that clinched Manchester City's place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Newport, 82 rungs below City on the English football ladder, rattled City in the first half and Tyreeq Bakinson almost gave them the lead at a rocking Rodney Parade.

But City's class showed in the second half with Foden at the fore of most of the Premier League champions' attacking enterprise.

Leroy Sane's powerful shot from a tight angle put them in front after 51 minutes as the chances of a seismic cup shock for League Two Newport faded away.

Foden's 75th-minute shot crept in at the near post to subdue the home fans but when Padraig Amond maintained his run of scoring in every round with an 88th minute lob it seemed possible Newport's fairytale might have a late twist.

But a second goal for youngster Foden arrived 71 seconds later before Riyad Mahrez rubbed salt into Newport's wounds with virtually the last kick of the game.

Guardiola was quick to shower praise on the 18-year-old Foden, describing the England prospect as "brilliant".

"Phil's only problem is that he has to compete with Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Bernardo Silva," Guardiola said.

"He's a player who is ready to play. Today was a good test for him, and this will be good for him.

"He learnt a lot and he helped us to win the game with two incredible goals.

"He has the mentality and ability to score goals when he is near the box. He was brilliant."

Newport had beaten Leeds United, Leicester City and Middlesbrough, as well as drawing with Tottenham Hotspur, at Rodney Parade in the last 14 months, and they again emerged with credit for frustrating City for long periods.

Guardiola added: "It was really tough. What they do, they do incredibly well.

"Every free kick and throw-in is difficult, and we suffered in the first 20 minutes because we needed time to adapt.

"We finished well and we produced an incredible performance in the second half.

"I'm so delighted to keep going in this incredible, prestigious competition, and now we are in the quarter-finals, so I must say well done to the players.

"Football is not always playing on the biggest stages and on good surfaces. We had to adapt, and it can only help us be a better team.

"We can play at home against Chelsea and do a good performance, but coming here is completely different with the different opponent, different approach and the atmosphere and everything.

"I am quite surprised with the atmosphere. The support of the team was incredible, it was nice to hear them chanting 'Who are you? Who are you?'"

"If you come here and don't take it seriously, big teams will go out, and they have. Sometimes it's easier to play against Arsenal and Chelsea and in the Champions League."

Newport's cup run is now over for another season, but they have made more than £1 million from it and kept themselves firmly on the football map.

County manager Michael Flynn said: "I am very proud of the players. I thought they were outstanding.

I can't speak highly enough of Manchester City and their manager. He is a serial winner and he is also full of respect

"I am a little bit disappointed with the last two goals we conceded, because we got back into it and we just wanted that one chance, but we didn't hold on.

"I was buzzing at half time, especially after watching them [against Chelsea] last week. They were 4-0 up after 24 minutes against a much bigger club than us.

"Getting to share the touchline with Pep Guardiola was magical for me. He said 'you should be proud, you are doing a fabulous job, and good luck'.

"Manchester City are such an excellent team. The players are full of class, the manager is full of class. They invited our players into their changing room, and that means a lot for any player, especially League Two ones.

"I can't speak highly enough of Manchester City and their manager. He is a serial winner and he is also full of respect."

Updated: February 17, 2019 08:31 AM

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