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Following a strong performance from the right foot and the head, it was the dependable left foot that dealt the final blow. In a matchup that saw Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne reunited in Manchester City’s attack, Phil Foden scored a perfect hat-trick against Brentford, bringing the reigning champions within two points of league leaders Liverpool. This away comeback in the Premier League marked another victory for Pep Guardiola’s team. If City wins their game in hand, which is also against Brentford in two weeks, they will return to the top of the table. After overcoming their struggles against Thomas Frank’s team last season, the champions have even more reason to be hopeful as they aim to pull ahead in the title race.
Brentford was the sole team to achieve two victories over City in the previous season. Despite never losing to the same opponent three times in a row in the league, Guardiola may have been concerned when Neal Maupay scored the first goal, possibly thinking that Frank would repeat his success. In their fourth consecutive away game in the Premier League, City found themselves trailing once again. However, just like in their previous matches against Newcastle, Everton, and Luton, the reigning champions managed to turn things around and secure a win. Phil Foden’s two goals, one before and one after half time, were crucial in breaking Brentford’s resilience. Despite an impressive performance from goalkeeper Mark Flekken, who made nine saves in the first half and even assisted Maupay’s goal from long range, Foden’s quick and intuitive finishes proved to be the game-changer.
Foden scored three goals in a stylish manner. He received a pass from Haaland and smoothly bypassed Ethan Pinnock to enter the penalty box with a confident burst of speed before calmly finishing past Flekken. It was a controlled display of talent from the 23-year-old, and it was fitting that he would score the goals even as De Bruyne and Haaland played together for the first time in five months since the beginning of the season. This is because it has been the goals of other players, not just their two exceptional stars from last year’s successful season, that have brought City to their current position.
Foden played a crucial role in Manchester City’s comeback against Brentford, replicating his impressive performance at Goodison Park earlier in the season. The 23-year-old demonstrated his leadership again, capitalizing on Brentford’s defensive mistake just before half-time to equalize for City. In the second half, Foden showcased his skill with a delicate header from De Bruyne’s cross, scoring his second goal. In the end, it was Haaland who set up Foden’s third goal.
After successfully making a comeback, Guardiola’s team once again demonstrated their resilience. This also marked another worrying streak of nine consecutive wins for City, a pattern that has led them to previous titles. What was most concerning for Liverpool and Arsenal was the presence of Haaland and De Bruyne playing together, while players like Foden and Julian Alvarez are in top form.
In the meantime, De Bruyne has made an impressive comeback, providing three assists in three games since his impactful appearance off the bench in last month’s comeback victory against Newcastle. However, while the Premier League’s top assist maker is back in form from last season, the previous season’s top scorer may need some time to get back to his best. Despite setting up Foden’s goal in the late minutes, Haaland had a quiet game as he returned to lead City’s attack. He had one clear chance when Janelt’s misplaced backpass sent him through on goal, but he was unable to convert as Flekken made the save.
Although it was the same scenario in the first half, with Flekken appearing to be unbeatable. The goalkeeper made impressive saves to block two impressive curved shots from Alvarez and a powerful long-range strike from Kyle Walker. To top off his performance, Flekken even contributed an assist, as Frank utilized a set-piece strategy to momentarily surprise Guardiola’s team. After surviving the first 20 minutes of play, Brentford opted for a direct approach to scoring: Ivan Toney outmuscled Nathan Ake to create an opening for Maupay to receive Flekken’s long pass. Maupay timed his run perfectly and calmly finished past Ederson, scoring for the fifth game in a row.
But following a short time where Brentford caused difficulties for City, it quickly became clear why Flekken was unable to maintain a clean sheet in his last 11 games in the Premier League – and why Brentford has allowed at least two goals in their last seven games. When Pinnock was unsuccessful in clearing De Bruyne’s cross, Foden took control and shot the ball through Pinnock’s legs, finally scoring against Flekken and providing City with a way to get back into the game.
Brentford put up a tough challenge for City for some time. This area of west London is known for being a difficult place for opposing teams, and Guardiola’s squad had to endure some tense moments. Despite falling behind, Ruben Dias blocked Christian Norgaard’s shot that was headed for the goal, Josko Gvardiol prevented Maupay’s volley, and Toney missed a chance at the back post. While Ederson did not have to make any saves, he appeared rushed and uncomfortable under Brentford’s pressure. However, Foden eventually scored the third goal, similar to how City is dominating in the title race.