Manchester City vs Sevilla. UEFA Champions League Group G.
Match report as academy graduate Rico Lewis lights up the Etihad Stadium with equalising goal; Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez make the game safe after Rafa Mir headed Sevilla into shock lead; City finish top of Group G
Thursday 3 November 2022 06:10, UK
Rico Lewis became the youngest player to score on his first Champions League start as he sparked a Manchester City comeback in a 3-1 win over Sevilla.
The 17-year-old right-back coolly slotted home the equaliser after Rafa Mir had headed Sevilla into a shock first-half lead.
City had to call for Kevin De Bruyne from the bench in search of a winner and he delivered within three minutes, setting up Julian Alvarez with a wondrous assist - his 12th of the season. Alvarez then grabbed his second assist of the night when setting up Riyad Mahrez to make the game safe as City finished top of Group G.
Pep Guardiola said of Lewis: "We see him every day, we don't give out presents here. Not just because he's a Manchester City fan and from the academy, he has to earn it. But we've since day one that this guy has something special. He's aggressive enough defensively but does have a lot of margin to improve and with the ball when playing inside he is so good. And outside he showed today with his crossing and finishing."
The last-16 draw, for which Man City will be seeded, will be held at 12pm on Monday November 7. They will face one of Club Brugge, Inter Milan, Frankfurt, Milan, RB Leipzig or PSG.
Man City: Ortega (7), Laporte (7), Lewis (8), Dias (7), Sergio Gomez (7), Gundogan (7), Palmer (6), Foden (7), Mahrez (7), Alvarez (8), Grealish (7)
Subs used: Rodri (7), De Bruyne (8), Silva (7), Wilson-Esbrand (7), Cancelo (N/A)
Sevilla: Bono (6), Montiel (6), Carmona (6), Marcao (6), Rekik (6), Acuna (6), Gomez (7), Rakitic (6), Delaney (6), Isco (6), Mir (8)
Subs used: Telles (6), Gudelj (6), Suso (6), Jordan (6), Lamela (6)
Man of the match: Rico Lewis
Guardiola resisted the urge to bring Erling Haaland back into the fold after the goalscoring machine had been suffering with a virus and a foot injury - he's likely to be ready for the clash with Fulham on Saturday.
City's last two games in the Champions League both finished 0-0 and they failed to score in a lacklustre first-half showing. Sevilla, meanwhile, carried the greater attacking threat and Mir had already had two looks at goal before opening the scoring on 31 minutes. It was really poor defending from City's point of view as Mir was left in three yards of space from an Isco corner to loop a header into the far corner.
City had nine shots before the break but only one of those hit the target. Guardiola switched his tactics at half-time by bringing off Jack Grealish and adding another central midfielder into the game with Rodri. Guardiola revealed Grealish was "the best player" in the first half but withdrew him for a mixture of tactical and fatigue reasons.
That allowed the two City full-backs to play more as wingers rather than inverted midfielders and it was Lewis - born in 2004 - that grabbed the equaliser. A successful high press left Sevilla outnumbered and Alvarez threaded a perfectly weighted ball through for Lewis, who kept his cool impressively for someone so young and scored with a fine finish.
Aged 17 years and 346 days, Lewis becomes the youngest player in Champions League history to score on his first start in the competition, breaking the record previously held by Karim Benzema (17 years 352 days for Lyon vs Rosenborg).
Despite the leveller, City struggled to find space up against the Sevilla low block and Guardiola called for De Bruyne off the bench. Alvarez had been making some fine runs in behind the Sevilla centre-backs all evening but no one possessed the vision to find him until De Bruyne picked up the ball on the halfway line and spun a sensational ball in behind that he latched onto. From there the striker rounded the goalkeeper and fired home into the roof of the net.
Mahrez looked like he was feeling sorry for himself at times after a rusty start to the season but his mood improved with eight minutes left, hammering home a superb finish after being found by an unselfish Alvarez pass.
Guardiola said: "In the first half we were there but we struggled to attack as we played a right footer on the left and left footer on the right so you go inside and it becomes difficult against five at the back. In the second half with Sergio Gomez on the left and Rico Lewis on the right we felt we had more presence in the final third. It's good as of course we have qualified but we finished well and the money for the club is important. It was a good night for us, especially in the second half."
Guardiola on the production line coming from the academy: "The academy is working amazingly since Jadon Sancho, Brahim Diaz, Phil Foden, James McAtee, Cole Palmer, there are many talents. The guys that want to stay here and fight for their position, they have a chance. If they are not patient and listen to the agents more, then they can leave, no problem. You saw the reaction from the crowd that people are so pleased to have players from the academy playing for us. They can help us as they have quality."
Man City have three more games before the World Cup break. They host Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday; kick-off 3pm. They then face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday November 9, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm.
Their final match before the World Cup is on Saturday November 12, when they host Brentford in the Premier League; kick-off 12.30pm.
Sevilla have two further La Liga fixtures to play, against Real Betis and Real Soceidad, before a Copa del Rey match against Velarde on Sunday November 13.