Manchester City began the defence of their Carabao Cup crown with a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth, thanks to goals from Phil Foden and debutant Liam Delap - the son of ex-Stoke and Ireland man Rory.
The young City team began brightly and were ahead after 18 minutes. Counter-attacking swiftly, Foden played a perfect through ball for 17-year-old Delap, whose first-time effort powered past the goalkeeper and into the top corner from 16 yards. As debuts go, it was an excellent start.
Bournemouth hit back within five minutes, however, when they scored from their first attack of note. David Brooks carried the ball a long way and beat several opponents before finding Dan Gosling, who in turn slipped the ball to Sam Surridge, and he fired home on the turn.
Zeck Steffen, making his debut in goal for City, could not be faulted for the equaliser and had little to do throughout the 90 minutes.
Pep Guardiola also named five teenagers and two 20-year-olds in his starting XI as he made eight changes from the side that played in the club’s Premier League opener. Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling both came on in the second half as he searched for a winner, but it was two of the starters - Foden and Riyad Mahrez - who provided it.
Mahrez played a one-two with Foden and then struck the post, but the rebound fell kindly to Foden and his scuffed effort cruelly bounced over Mark Travers and into the net.
Man City - three-time defending champions - will play Burnley at Turf Moor in round four.
City’s kids impress, but what next? Delap will get much of the attention and deservedly so. Getting into this team at 17 is no mean feat, scoring on your debut even more so, and he already has the physical tools required to lead the line at this level. Tommy Doyle was quietly effective and Foden dazzled. The future looks bright for them all, but is it bright for them at City?
That will largely come down to what first-team chances they are afforded by the club and Guardiola. And the case of Foden may serve as a cautionary tale. He was excellent tonight, but few doubt that he has great ability. Guardiola has waxed lyrical about Foden’s talent on countless occasions; yet he has never made 10 league starts in a season, despite having been around the first-team picture for some time. Jadon Sancho, once a City team-mate, has greatly eclipsed what Foden has achieved since leaving the Etihad-branded bubble in favour of playing for Borussia Dortmund. Sancho made more league starts last season - 25 - than Foden has in his entire career, and Sancho’s rapid rise has undeniably been aided by departing City. You imagine this may be a large factor in Eric Garcia - one of the five starting teenagers - turning down a new City contract, leaving him poised to leave on a free transfer next summer if not before.
So there is talent there, but how about a pathway? Playing these kids in the Carabao Cup is the easy part and they largely looked the part tonight. The harder task facing Guardiola and City is finding a way to integrate a few, in particular Delap and Doyle, into the first-team picture on a more regular basis and make better use of the young talent the club is producing.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Phil Foden (Man City). Following on from a goal in the last game, he ran the attacking show tonight, with all of City’s best play coming through him. He played several lovely thorough balls even before Delap opened the scoring, and deserved his goal. Six of his nine league starts last season came after the restart and, with David Silva gone, he finally appears poised for a breakout season.
18’ - GOAL! Man City 1-0 Bournemouth (Delap). The 17-year-old opens the scoring! After Bournemouth lose the ball, Foden finds Delap with a through ball, weighted perfectly. The youngster hits it first time, from just inside the Cherries' box, and sends the ball past Travers into the top corner. Lovely goal.
22- GOAL! Man City 1-1- Bournemouth (Surridge). The visitors are level! Surridge scores, turning and firing past Steffen after Gosling slid him the ball, but that goal is all about Brooks. He carried the ball from his own half to the edge of the opposition box, almost swapping flanks in the process and beating several opponents before passing to Gosling.
41’ - CHANCE! Bournemouth are caught out at a throw-in as Walker finds Rodri unmarked, 25 yards out, and he lashes a shot narrowly wide.
55’ - CHANCE! Bournemouth have a two-on-two break and Brooks looks to have slipped through Surridge, but Steffen is out in a flash and slides in to clear the ball.
75’ - GOAL! Man City 2-1 Bournemouth (Foden). Mahrez plays a smart one-two with Foden and then sees his low shot come back off the post. It falls to Foden, however, and his scuffed rebound loops over Travers and into the net.
Manchester City: Steffen 6, Walker 6, Garcia 6, Harwood-Bellis 6, Bernabe 5, Rodrigo 6, Doyle 7, Foden 8, Torres 4, Mahrez 6, Delap 7. Subs: Mendy 6, De Bruyne 6, Sterling 5.
Riyad Mahrez in action versus Bournemouth
Image credit: Getty Images
Bournemouth: Travers 7, Smith 6, Ofoborh 6, Simpson 6, Kelly 5, Rico 7, Billing 6, Gosling 6, L. Cook 5, Brooks 8, Surridge 6. Subs: Zemura 6, S. Cook 5, Kilkenny 5.
- Man City have won 16 Carabao Cup ties on the bounce.
- Bournemouth have never beaten Man City in a competitive fixture.
- The average age of Man City’s starting line-up was 22.
- City have won 11 games in a row versus the Cherries, scoring 32 goals in those matches.
- Delap is the first player born in 2003 to both play for and score for the Citizens.