Pep Guardiola's 'amazing' verdict on Phil Foden after Man City hat-trick vs Aston Villa

Manchester City were comfortable in the end and it was largely down to the quality of their academy graduate.

Pep Guardiola has urged Phil Foden to keep working on his goalscoring instincts after another outstanding performance in the central role during Manchester City’s 4-1 win against Aston Villa.

City enjoyed their 14th consecutive home league win over Villa in comfortable fashion, with Foden’s hat-trick the icing on the cake after Rodri opened the scoring early on. Guardiola’s side were made to fight in the first-half and Jhon Duran did equalise, but their quality paid off after the break with Foden the standout player.

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The 23-year-old was rather fortunate to see his free-kick squeeze through a gap in the Villa wall just before half-time but a scintillating second-half performance was anything but lucky. An instinctive sweeping finish made it 3-1 before Foden picked himself up from a heavy challenge to rifle the ball into the top corner for his third and City’s fourth.

“Definitely [running out of words to describe Foden]: goals, assists, work ethic,” Guardiola told TNT Sports. “When he plays in the central position, he has an incredible sense of goal. He has goals in his veins, and we have to use him.

“[The free-kick] was more a mistake for Aston Villa. It's not a perfect free-kick, not over the wall but it was important to score the second goal before half-time.

"After the third, they had one or two chances on transition, we had a lot of chances. Really pleased with the performance, three days, three days we didn't have time to prepare the game."

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City were made to fight through the opening 45 minutes against a compact Villa side who countered well and equalised through Duran. But the Blues came out and dominated the second-half, with Guardiola feeling comfortable enough to keep the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland on the bench.

Arsenal’s win against Luton Town kept City in third-place but they were able to heap pressure on Liverpool by pulling level on points, albeit Jurgen Klopp’s side host Sheffield United tomorrow.

“They have more points than us so they are favourites,” the City boss added of Liverpool and Arsenal. “What we have to do is win all of our games. 

“We could see today it was important, as well to qualify for the Champions League next season. We are close to that and for the club, qualifying for the Champions League is the same level of importance as winning the Premier League. Today, beating Aston Villa was a big step.”