The Etihad Stadium bore witness to a record-breaking night for Premier League champions Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s men ran out 3-1 winners against La Liga outfit Sevilla, confirming passage into the knockout stage of the Champions League as group G winners.
Goals from Julián Álvarez, Riyad Mahrez, and a record-breaking strike from youngster Rico Lewis sealed a second-half comeback by Pep Guardiola’s men after Jorge Sampaoli’s Los Nervionenses took a 1-0 lead into the half-time interval in what was, at that point, a very difficult night for City who remained without the injured Erling Haaland and started with Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, and João Cancelo all on the bench.
City would come roaring back, however, first through Lewis’ strike that pulled the club level, while also becoming the youngest-ever player to score on his full Champions League debut in the competition’s history, which saw him voted man of the match.
Julián Álvarez showcased his credentials as well as he led the line in Haaland’s stead, with a goal of his own and a brace of assists that helped the club temporarily forget that the Norwegian goal machine was not suited up for duty in front of the home support, with his goal coming from a superb bit of quality displayed by De Bruyne to feed the Argentine just three minutes after the Belgian creator-in-chief was introduced off the bench.
Riyad Mahrez completed the 3-1 comeback seven minutes from full-time thanks to Álvarez pressing high up before forcing a turnover, to which he turned supplier once again for the Algerian to expertly cap off a second-half reversal commensurate with City’s quality.
Finishing as expected group winners leaves Guardiola’s men open to a round of 16 clash with one of Club Brugge, Inter Milan, RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt, Paris Saint-Germain, and AC Milan during a season where, after Haaland’s arrival, the club will no doubt push to finally bring home their first-ever Champions League trophy.
Manchester City Player Ratings
GK: Stefan Ortega (6) - As a backup to Ederson, Ortega is only likely to be given time before the World Cup, and in that light, he was okay enough today to continue in that vein. Likely will not feature much in the new year, though.
RB: Rico Lewis (8) - Sensational stuff from the City academy product whose second-half strike earned him the right to be called the youngest-ever goalscorer on their first start in the Champions League, outstripping Karim Benzema’s previous record.
CB: Rúben Dias (7) - Normal service continues to resume by the Portuguese international who is hands down the top center-back at the club. Good throughout as usual.
CB: Aymeric Laporte (6.5) - Not a brilliant night for the Spanish defender but he was decent enough and did look to improve in the second half, as did the rest of his teammates.
LB: Sergio Gómez (6.5) - The Spanish youngster had an okay evening on the left side of the defense. His talent is unquestioned but he is still rough around the edges. Remains one for the future for sure, however.
DM: Ilkay Gündogan (6.5) - A somewhat off-night for the German midfield veteran on an evening where City was not at their best in the first half, but this is hardly a common theme for the former Dortmund man.
CM: Cole Palmer (6) - The City youngster received a big call to action tonight but was removed for Kevin De Bruyne as Pep Guardiola pushed for a win at the Etihad.
CM: Phil Foden (7.5) - Played well overall and perhaps can consider himself a bit unlucky to not find the back of the net and give City a fourth goal tonight in the dying embers of proceedings.
RW: Jack Grealish (6) - Another sub-standard display from the former Aston Villa star who continues to struggle at City. Serious questions will be asked if he should remain at the club past this season.
LW: Riyad Mahrez (8) - For all of City’s ability to bring in talent on big money and wages, Riyad Mahrez continues to produce in big moments for the Premier League champions and his goal put the result beyond doubt during a strong performance.
CF: Julián Álvarez (9) - A superb man-of-the-match performance from the young Argentine striker who led the line expertly in Erling Haaland’s stead, with a brace of assists and a fine goal of his own to lead City’s comeback.
Sub: Rodri (6.5) - Brought on to shore up the midfield in place of Grealish which saw Foden moved into a more forward role. Succeeded in his overall task as you would expect.
Sub: Bernardo Silva (6.5) - Given the night off as City expected to coast into the knockout stage but his services were required to help the club get over the line. He was solid enough in the 30-odd-minutes he was given.
Sub: Kevin De Bruyne (7.5) - As expected, De Bruyne helped change the game when he was brought on in the 70th minute, needing just three minutes to set up Álvarez for the match-winner with a customary delectable bit of service. Influential as ever.
Sub: Josh Wilson-Esbrand (6) - A decent twenty-minute cameo for another club academy product on a night that he will no doubt have enjoyed.
Sub: João Cancelo (6) - Brought on with five minutes left and allowed Lewis to receive the ovation he deserved on a fantastic night for the youngster. Cancelo was as you’d expect with limited minutes.
FC Sevilla Player Ratings
GK: Yassine Bounou (6)
RB: Gonzalo Montiel (6)
RCB: José Ángel Carmona (5)
CB: Marcão (6.5)
LCB: Karim Rekiik (5.5)
LB: Marcos Acuña (7)
RM: Rafa Mir (7)
CM: Ivan Rakitić (6.5)
CM: Thomas Delaney (6)
LM: Isco (7)
CF: Papu Gómez (6)
Sub: Nemanja Gudelj (6.5)
Sub: Suso (6)
Sub: Alex Telles (5)
Sub: Erik Lamela (6)
Sub: Joan Jordan (6)