MAN CITY 3, SEVILLA 1
Rico Lewis, one of their ‘own’, made history on his full debut for Manchester City.
The right back, at 17 years and 346 days, became City’s youngest goalscorer in the Champions League.
Bury-born Lewis, who has been at City since U8s, netted an important equaliser as he also became the youngest player from any club to score on his full Champions League debut.
And there was fulsome praise from City manager Pep Guardiola who said: “What a goal. He’s a fantastic player, so intelligent. He understands everything. He made a fantastic goal and played really well.
“He was given a standing ovation from the crowd as it was something special when a player comes through the academy.
“We had already qualified and were at home, so it was the perfect scenario and important to give minutes to players like Rico.
“He doesn’t think he is already there, and we need to continue working with him, but he has proved every day he deserves to be with us.”
Guardiola added Lewis was recommended to him by the academy coaches pre-season when he joined the first team on tour.
He explained: “Before pre-season I didn’t know about him. The others said he is really good, so I said bring him in.
“Good players you realise in two minutes and every game he comes with us. We see him every day and don’t give presents just because he is a City fan.Embed from Getty Images
“From day one in America we could see how special he was, someone you can rely on 100 per cent.
“We have many games and if we get injuries and he has to play, we know we can trust him.
“It is a dream come true for the academy and we are very pleased how it is working.”
City, already assured of qualification to the knockout phase, came from behind to secure victory with goals from Lewis, Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez.
And City topped Group G unbeaten in six group games which yielded four wins and two draws.
Guardiola admitted City struggled in the opening period but improved.
“In the first half the guys tried. The second half was better and we scored really good goals. I’m happy for everyone,” he said.
Ruben Dias admitted there was never any chance of City dropping their guard, despite being assured of top spot.
He said: “At this club it doesn’t matter if it’s a friendly, the Champions League final, or a game in the groups with everything done, we need to push each other. It is the same as in training.
“It was one of thosegames, everything is settled in the group, it’s a game in which you need to perform because the rhythm is going with non-stop games.
“To drop down [in terms of performance] is not a good idea. The second half was a very good answer from the team.”
Dias also praised Lewis, adding: “He’s an enormous talent. He’s been with us a long time. To get the opportunity of playing practically the full game and scoring, you can see his quality. He just needs to keep working.”
Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli said: “We put in a great effort mentally and physically but then spoiled it by shooting ourselves in the foot with a couple of individual errors against the best team in the world.”
Lewis was given his first City start by Guardiola, Stefan Ortega was preferred to Ederson in goal and Sergio Gomez was also included in a strong City line-up given they have already qualified as group winners.
Phil Foden, Cole Palmer and Julian Alvarez gave an added youth element to City side with Kalvin Phillips still not fit enough for a place on the bench a week before Gareth Southgate names his England World Cup squad.
Sevilla, who had already been eliminated, fielded a weakened side as former City player Jesus Navas, United loanee Alex Telles and former Red Adnan Januzaj and one-time Spurs’ player Erik Lamela were all on the bench for the Spanish side.
City could have taken the lead inside two minutes in torrential rain.
A poor clearance by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was intercepted by Jack Grealish with Alvarez setting up Palmer who fired narrowly over.
Dias also had a chance as Grealish’s free kick glanced off his thigh in front of goal and flew just wide.
Sevilla had two openings in quick succession, both falling to Rafa Mir, the former Wolves and Nottingham Forest player. The first, an angled shot was palmed out by Ortega and that was followed by a header which flashed past the upright.
Ilkay Gundogan exchanged passes with Foden before firing into the side netting as they looked to make a breakthrough.
But it was Sevilla who went ahead in the 31st minute to silence the home fans.
Mir, who never scored for his English clubs, was unmarked at the far post to find the net with a looping header over Ortega from Isco’s corner.
City made a change as Grealish made way for Rodri while Sevilla also brought on Telles and Suso having already see Nemanja Gudelj replace the injured Marcos Acuna in first half stoppage time.
The equaliser came in the 52nd minute as Alvarez played a neat pass to release Lewis who drove a fierce angled shot high into the roof of the net.
And City almost went ahead shortly afterwards when Dias’ header from Foden’s corner was brilliantly clawed out by Bounou.
Bernardo Silva, Joshua Wilson-Esbrand and Kevin De Bruyne were all introduced as Guardiola looked for a winner. Gundogan, Sergio Gomes and Palmer were the players to make way.
And within three minutes, De Bruyne provided the assist for City’s second.
The Belgium played a delightful diagonal through ball to release Alvarez who rounded keeper Bounou before firing high into the roof of the net for his fifth of the season.
City added a third goal in the 83rd minute as Alvarez hustled Jose Angel Carmona into losing possession before he released Mahrez who fired into an empty net.
Joao Cancelo replaced Lewis with seven minutes left.
And in the dying embers of the game, City could have added further goals.
Dias had a powerful header kept out by Bounou and Foden’s effort flew narrowly wide as the struggles of the opening period became a distant memory.