Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Phil Foden after his match-winning performance against Tottenham on Saturday and used the opportunity to hit back at those who criticised his use of Fabian Delph in the Champions League.
Foden was making only his second top-flight start but looked at home as City claimed a measure of revenge for their European exit at the hands of Spurs, who progressed on away goals despite losing the quarter-final second leg 4-3 in midweek.
PEP 💬 @PhilFoden is an incredible player.— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 20, 2019
We needed the capacity to press high and guy who has quality to arrive in box and every time he plays he has scored goal or has chances.
Incredible experience for him and I trust him a lot.#MCITOT 🔵 #mancity
Spurs won the first leg 1-0 and Delph came in for significant criticism for his performance, as did Guardiola by extension, prompting a prickly response when asked about Foden following Saturday's win.
"Now I am a genius. He [Foden] scored a goal, how good is the manager? Then, after playing Delph in London, it is a disaster," Guardiola told reporters.
"Phil is an incredibly talented player and we have to pick him in the right moment. He has the quality to arrive in the box.
"Every time he plays he scores a goal or has chances. His ability in small spaces, it is not easy to play against [Eric] Dier or [Victor] Wanyama or [Christian] Eriksen.
"It is an incredible experience for him to play and I trust him a lot."
Kevin De Bruyne suffered an injury in the first half and was subsequently forced off, making him a doubt for the remainder of the season, while the Belgian will almost certainly miss Wednesday's trip to Old Trafford.
That could provide Foden with the opportunity to make his first start in a Manchester derby.
"Maybe," Guardiola said when asked if Foden could feature against Manchester United.
"Maybe Kevin is not there, so we will see. I didn't spend one second to think about the match at Old Trafford.
"I need to enjoy today and rest a bit and then watch as many games as possible from United."