2003 was a highlight reel of a year. Blink-182 began recording their fifth studio album, The Rock beat ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIX and, on 3 May, Manchester City beat Liverpool at Anfield.
Phil Foden was preparing to celebrate his third birthday following the victory. Yes, that’s what toddlers do. They prepare meticulously for their birthdays.
For all their success over the last decade, heading to the Kop has always proven a sticking point for an increasingly successful and ever-scintillating Manchester City. That 2003 victory against Liverpool would be the last time City won at Anfield for almost 18 years.
Thanks to an unlikely howler of a 90 minutes from Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, however, Pep Guardiola’s side ran riot against the Reds to correct that blemish on the CV. Having taken the lead through Ilkay Gundogan but being held back by a Mohamed Salah penalty, Gundogan popped up again to fire City ahead once more after 73 minutes, following a little bit of wizardry from Foden in the wide area to capitalise on Alisson’s misplaced pass and float the ball back across goal.
Raheem Sterling added a third for City to put the game beyond doubt following another Alisson error. And as smart a goal it was with Bernardo Silva looping the ball into his path, nothing else comes close to the misery compiler added by Foden in the 83rd minute.
Foden had already danced around Liverpool’s defence in unrelenting fashion for 80 minutes, to a point where you’d be mistaken for thinking we were back in 2003 again and Blink-182 had gone top of the charts. It wasn’t enough, though, and for his efforts, an assist wouldn’t cut the mustard.
Receiving the ball again on the left flank from Gabriel Jesus, the 20-year-old took it down with ease, and immediately his head was up. A few sharp, short touches got him just inside the 18-yard box, where the writing was then on the wall. A disguised and swift body feint was enough to bamboozle Andy Robertson and send him spinning into oblivion, which gave Foden a split second to fire the ball at goal.
When you’re Phil Foden, it’s becoming apparent that there is very little in the way of impossible. The ball was rifled off his left boot and into the roof of the net in a way that Ray Hudson would only describe as ‘magisterial’. Leaving the keeper with no chance, it was a fine fourth for City – and with any top goal, warranted inaudible noise from Gary Neville on commentary.
In a time without the live crowd, perhaps the only person besides Ray Hudson that could’ve given the goal some more character would be some prime Alan Partridge World Cup coverage. That would take away from a simply stunning strike, though, which could go in either the Louvre or on a muddy bog of a British Sunday league pitch and still look equally as magnificent.
Laces through it, net rippled, arm in the air celebration in a coming of age display. Not bad that Phil kid, is he?