Manchester City’s Champions League meeting with Borussia Dortmund was billed as the elite stage for one of the most talked-about 20-year-olds in world football – and so it proved.
Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland’s current level of celebrity was captured after the final whistle by images of him signing red and yellow cards for one of the officials. He is an undoubted superstar of the future.
In this instance, however, it Manchester City’s Phil Foden who had the final word over Haaland with the late winner in a fascinating quarter-final first leg.
Haaland had shown flashes of his undoubted brilliance but it was Foden, putting aside the frustration of failing to convert two earlier opportunities, who scored the 89th-minute winner to give Manchester City a slender 2-1 lead to take into the second leg.
The prodigious Norwegian Haaland – currently being courted by so many of Europe’s superpowers – may yet have his say in the second leg in Dortmund as he also demonstrated what all the fuss is about.
Dortmund will still feel right in this tie, especially as this triumvirate of glorious young talent on show in Manchester was completed by their outstanding England 17-year-old Jude Bellingham, who once again showed remarkable maturity and was involved in the night’s most contentious moment.
But it was Foden who made the decisive contribution after Dortmund’s enterprise was rewarded with Marco Reus’ 84th-minute away goal equaliser, City rousing themselves from their disappointment to put their noses in front once more.
As with Haaland and Bellingham, Foden has a football wisdom that belies his youth, constantly probing throughout, making his way into dangerous positions, not put off by missing his opportunities before finally hitting the target to allow City cautious optimism for the return.