Phil Foden gives Pep Guardiola a big Chelsea nudge as teenage Man City stars enjoy their big night

Phil Foden revelled in his new-found “veteran footballer” status to send Manchester City into the Carabao Cup fourth round – and give Pep Guardiola a timely reminder of his incredible ability.

The Blues ace created an equaliser for Kevin De Bruyne after Wycombe had taken a shock lead, and then ended the game as a contest with a blistering third City goal right on half time.

The 21-year-old was also offering words of encouragement and advice to the teenagers who made up the City defensive unit, like a grand old stager, which he was, in relative terms.

Pep Guardiola picked an incredibly youthful back four of Conrad Egan-Riley, Josh Wilson-Esbrand, Finley Burns and Luke Mbete, shielded by 17-year-old Belgian defensive midfielder Romeo Lavia.

They did superbly well, despite the blow of conceding the first goal to Brandon Hanlan, but it was Foden who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

Always bearing in mind that the opposition were League One, it was still a quite staggering performance in the first half from the Stockport ace.

And with Chelsea away looming on Saturday, followed in quick succession by trips to Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool, Foden gave notice that he is as sharp as ever.

While Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling looked like players who need minutes under their belt, and Riyad Mahrez took half an hour to get going, Foden was in his stride right from the off.

The nature of the opposition means little to him, he just loves having a football at his feet, and doing wondrous things with it.

A couple of first-time, hacked passes De Bruyne and Sterling gave notice if what was to come, but first City gave Wycombe their moment in the sun.

The 18-year-olds who made up the Blues back four have certainly never seen anything like Ade Akinfenwa, unless they have played against an especially large uncle on the local park when younger.

The Wycombe striker is 39, weighs 16 stone and can bench-press 28 stone – not easily shifted off the ball.

When he hurled himself at one cross, there was a real fear that De Bruyne might be crushed flat beneath his tumbling bulk.

Kevin De Bruyne scores Man City’s equaliser

Wycombe tried to make use of that physical advantage by getting the ball in the box as often as possible, and it paid off when a corner was half-cleared, a mishit shot reached Ryan Tafazolli on the left and he squared for Brandon Hanlan to tap into an unguarded net.

The visiting fans were euphoric, but they had simply tweaked the tiger’s tail.

Seven minutes later the Blues were level, courtesy of Foden’s genius on the ball and De Bruyne’s finishing ability.

The pass to Foden in his own half seemed to have fallen behind him, but he somehow dragged it after him, like it was on elastic, drifted past one player, swayed past another and then curved the perfect pass into the path of De Bruyne’s overlapping run.

With the lone defender backing off, the Belgian did not need a second invitation and speared his shot into the far corner to level the scores.

The wind went out of Wycombe, and City stepped it up.

Left back Josh Wilson-Esbrand had already shown a boldness in attack, linking well with Sterling – and when he was left one-on-one with Jason McCarthy, with no Blue shirts offering any support, he took it upon himself to make something happen.

A couple of check backs and a feint later, he had the yard of space he needed, and coolly picked out Mahrez’s run towards the penalty spot – the Algeria star had already hit the post but he was not going to pass up a second opportunity and swept it home to put City ahead, two minutes before the break.

Foden then decided to end the game as a contest, as the game moved into first half stoppage time. Lurking on the right for a short corner, he gathered in the pass and simply smashed a shot that was close to keeper David Stockdale but so ferocious that his touch barely altered the ball’s flightpath.

Jack Grealish has claimed the left-sided berth, after Foden won his friendly rivalry with Sterling for that role last season, but after this, Guardiola needs to find a way of jamming the England international into his team at Stamford Bridge.

Phil Foden scores Man City's third goal against Wycombe Wanderers

Guardiola picked a team with six academy products, including Foden, and that raw back four bore all the hallmarks of City footballers.

Wilson-Esbrand gave notice that it may not be long before he joins the debate over the City left-back role with a mature attacking display which was capped by his assist for Mahrez’s goal.

On the other side Egan-Riley was positive and neat, and only inches away from setting up De Bruyne to claim his own assist.

But it was the centre back who truly caught the eye – and what a glut of talent the Blues now have in that position.

With Aymeric Laporte and John Stones injured, and Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake rested, City also have Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Callum Doyle enjoying successful loan spells at Anderlecht and Sunderland respectively.

But Mbete and Burns did passable impressions, striding effortlessly out of defence and slipping super passes through the lines for the attacking players.

Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City celebrates with team mates after scoring his side’s second goal against Wycombe

And with Fernandinho edging towards retirement, Romeo Lavia showed exactly why he has earned so many admirers in the youth ranks with a combative display in defensive midfield, while still finding time to loft quarterback passes that Mahrez and Sterling might have used more effectively on better days.

Sterling remains a worry – he was doing many of the right things, but his confidence deserted him in front of goal. He was not helped by the offside flag when he finally did stick one away in a much-improved second half.

City set about enjoying themselves in the second half as Wycombe wilted, and Ferran Torres, who had also been misfiring in front of goal, bagged one, courtesy of the irrepressible Foden.

His darting figure instantly controlled an awkward pass and delivered a beauty of a cross for Torres, presenting him with the simplest of chances.

They were not done – Mahrez took advantage of another precision De Bruyne pass, as Sterling sprinted onto it and cut the ball back for the Algerian.

And to cap off an entertaining night that had been illuminated by Foden’s first-half goal, sub Cole Palmer – born just a few miles down the road from Foden in Wythenshawe – gave notice that another exceptional talent is thrusting through.

Picking the ball up from Mbete on halfway, he strode at the retreating defence and then elegantly picked out the far corner from 20 yards.

It was the kind of goal Palmer has specialised in whilst playing in the youth ranks – now he has one at senior level, too.