Phil Foden’s last-gasp strike gave Manchester City a crucial slender advantage in their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Borussia Dortmund at Etihad Stadium.
City’s hopes of reaching the semi-final looked to be in the balance when Marco Reus gave Dortmund what looked like a priceless away goal with a cool finish from Erling Haaland’s pass six minutes from time.
Kevin De Bruyne, who had given City the lead with a crisp finish after 19 minutes, played his part once more in the final minute of normal time when his fine cross was touched back by Ilkay Gundogan for Foden to stroke a finish past Marwin Hitz.
It was a bitter blow for an enterprising Dortmund side, who will leave Manchester nursing a burning sense of injustice directed towards Romanian official Ovidiu Hategan after he controversially ruled out Jude Bellingham’s second-half goal with City leading 1-0.
Bellingham beat Ederson to a through ball but after it appeared City’s keeper kicked the teenager, the referee blew for a foul against Borussia with the England star racing towards an empty net – not even allowing the intervention of VAR which would have surely awarded a goal.
City, who had a first-half penalty award overturned by VAR, showed commendable strength of character and great determination to react to the blow of Reus’ goal to score the winner and are now in pole position before the return leg in Germany.
Man City dig deep for victory
The Champions League has not been kind to Manchester City in the past and it looked, for five minutes at least, like they would be facing yet another uphill task in Germany after Reus equalised for Dortmund.
City may have been thinking their difficulties in Europe’s elite competition had returned, but they deserve huge credit for mounting what effectively had to be an instant response to claw back the advantage.
This tie is not over by any means, not with Haaland such a massive threat even though he was relatively quiet here, but make no mistake the picture looked a lot healthier for City at the final whistle than it did when Dortmund’s players celebrated wildly in an empty corner of the Etihad in the 84th minute.
And credit, too, to match-winner Foden as he kept getting into scoring positions despite squandering a couple of opportunities when he saw a shot saved by Hitz, then shot across the face of goal when he should have hit the target.
The joyous scenes on the pitch and among City’s support staff and substitutes in the stands showed how much this goal meant. Guardiola’s side would still have felt confident at 1-1 but now they have a precious lead to protect.
De Bruyne once again exerted his massive influence and he will be a figure of huge significance in the return as Guardiola finally tries to guide City into a Champions League semi-final. – BBC