Phil Foden says he feels “100% fit” after “one of the worst parts of my career” as his double sent Manchester City past Championship side Bristol City into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
After a string of poor performances following the World Cup, England attacking midfielder Foden was demoted to the bench.
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But he has now scored three goals in four days, having netted against Bournemouth on Saturday, and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Foden was “back for the best bit of the season”.
The 22-year-old scored at the back post after Riyad Mahrez’s cross across the six-yard box.
He scored his second goal off a pass from Julian Alvarez, with a first-time effort that deflected past Max O’Leary.
Late in the game, Kevin de Bruyne scored a fantastic third goal from 25 yards into the bottom corner for the visitors.
“I feel much better with my feet,” said Foden. “I feel 100% fit now and comfortable. It has been one of the worst parts of my career but everyone goes through them and it is how you react.
“[The issue was] discomfort in my feet and not playing as much. I love to play football and when I don’t I am a bit frustrated.”
Guardiola stated, “His career was always on the rise. This season, he struggled and was depressed. But he’s back for the best part of the season now.”
Bristol City, who had been unbeaten in their previous 12 games dating back to December 26, gave a good account of themselves for long periods, with a Mark Sykes penalty appeal turned down and Alex Scott forcing a save from Stefan Ortega.
However, Manchester City could have won by more after Kalvin Phillips hit the crossbar after just one minute.
Guardiola has always taken domestic cup competitions seriously, as evidenced by a strong starting lineup at a sold-out Ashton Gate.
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Top scorer Erling Haaland was left on the bench, but the majority of the Premier League champions’ first-team stars were present, including De Bruyne, who was making his comeback from illness.
The Belgian maestro was involved in the opener, feeding Mahrez down the right before the Algerian found Foden, who slotted home under Bristol City boss Nigel Pearson at Leicester.