Manchester City overcame a gallant Newport County side at Rodney Parade, winning 4-1 on a difficult surface. The League Two side fought hard to keep the Blues at bay in the first half, keeping the game goalless at half time. Leroy Sané scored four minutes into the second half to get City on their way. A brilliant brace from Phil Foden, either side of Padraig Amond’s consolation goal, won the game for the Blues. Amond’s goal gave Newport a glimmer of hope but Foden quelled the fightback a minute later with a fantastic solo goal. Riyad Mahrez then rounded off the game with a clinical strike in stoppage time.
Here’s how I rated the players:
Ederson – 7
The big Brazilian paid homage to the late, great Gordon Banks when he kept out Tyreeq Bakinson’s header with a fantastic right-handed swipe in the first half. Not one to be put off, he continued to receive the ball from his back line despite the bobbly surface and pressure from the Newport attack. He almost got caught out on one occasion when he took his eye off the ball, but he recovered well with typical assurance. A few minutes later he sent a 75-yard cruise missile straight to the chest of Leroy Sane on the left touchline. His pinpoint accuracy, even at long range, is remarkable.
Danilo – 6
Put in a gritty performance and fought hard to match Newport’s intensity. Seems to have more composure on the ball than Kyle Walker. Didn’t put a foot wrong.
John Stones – 7
The Barnsley Beckenbauer kept his cool in a mature performance. Endured the difficult pitch and the first half battle and helped finish off the game when he played Mahrez in brilliantly for the fourth goal. Slotted into the midfield well after Fernandinho went off at the end of the game. His cameos in the holding role get better every time.
Nicolas Otamendi – 6
Vintage performance from The General. Took some knocks and put his body on the line for the cause. Did give the ball away sloppily on a few occasions in the first half.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7
His fantastic cross early in the first half was nearly met by Gabriel Jesus. Looks more like he could be the long-term solution at left back.
Fernandinho – 7
The Brazilian was at his typical understated best today. Anchored the team in the midfield marshes until John Stones gave him some respite.
David Silva – 7
El Mago struggled to cast a spell over the muddy surface but still didn’t give the ball away. His calm authority allowed the inexperienced Foden to grow into the game. Can’t help but think that Silva is grooming the Stockport Iniesta to be his successor.
Phil Foden – 8 (Man of the Match)
Foden seemed to struggle with the pitch and the intensity of Newport’s pressing in the first half. To their credit they gave him no time or space to get into the game. However, he began to tandem with David Silva nicely, and in the second half he took the game away from Newport with two beautiful solo goals. Pep has been saying all season that Foden is ready, but it wasn’t until tonight that he really announced himself on the stage. Fantastic second half.
Leroy Sané – 8
Sané was a livewire in the first half and should have won a penalty when he struck the ball at the arm of Newport captain, Mark O’Brien. He continued to torment Newport down the left side and linked up well with Gabriel Jesus to open the scoring. His strike smashed into Joe Day’s nose before spinning into the goal.
Riyad Mahrez – 7
It looked like the neat jinks and tricks would amount to nothing for the Algerian winger, but when John Stones picked him out with a lovely ball from midfield, he dispatched it past Joe Day superbly.
Gabriel Jesus – 7
It was a tough evening for the young Brazilian, but he soldiered on and held the line well, dropping into midfield to link up play and taking a few knocks in the process. Jesus worked tirelessly as ever to press Newport high up the pitch but didn’t really get a sniff in front of goal. He was marshalled well by the tough Newport defence but never gave up the fight.