Manchester City 3-1 Sevilla: 5 things we learned - Manchester City News
Manchester City 3-1 Sevilla: 5 things we learned
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Manchester City 3-1 Sevilla: 5 things we learned

Off the back of their 1-0 victory against Leicester City, Manchester City got another win under their belt by beating Sevilla 3-1 in the Champions League.

After Rafa Mir put the visitors into a surprise lead at the Etihad Stadium, the hosts responded in emphatic fashion with three goals in the 2nd half, courtesy of Rico Lewis, Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez.

On a night where records were set and impressions were made, here are the five things we learned from the Sky Blues’ latest triumph.

Rico Lewis: A star is born

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Even a glimpse at Rico Lewis’ highlight reel from his starring display against Sevilla would deceive one into thinking that he has been a seasoned right-back for years on end.

In reality, the teenager became the fifth Englishman to ever make his first start in the Champions League before turning 18. And yet, the boyhood Manchester City fan had no qualms about operating as an inverted right-back, tucking into midfield and showcasing his impressive tactical intelligence at such a young age.

In possession, the biggest compliment one can pay to Lewis is that he looked like the archetypal Guardiola right-back, with his technical security and pinpoint positioning catching the eye.

Impressively, the academy graduate operated more as an overlapping when deployed in a different role.

Seven minutes into the second half, the wonderkid made an astute run in behind and instead of setting his teammates for a tap-in, he slammed the ball into the back of the net to level the scores.

Rico Lewis seemed to be in the mood to make history on Thursday night, as he beat Karim Benzema’s previously held record (17 years and 352 days) of being the youngest player to score in his first start in the Champions League at 17 years and 346 days.

After his emphatic strike, the youngster’s quick feet came to the fore, as he left defenders for dead time and again and created several chances for his side.

As the Etihad faithful gave Lewis a standing ovation, it seemed as if those seated in sky blue realised that this display was potentially the start of something special.

City finally have two quality strikers and Alvarez emphasised that

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While City have had their fair share of headaches in the striking department for the past two seasons, there was a time under Roberto Mancini in particular, when the club had an embarrassment of riches up top.

If Sergio Aguero wasn’t enough of a menace for defences across the country, a peek at an ensemble comprised by the likes of Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli would understandably send shivers down defenders’ spines.

In Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez, it seems as if the Sky Blues have recaptured their formula from a decade ago. As the latter led the line in the former’s injury-stricken absence, he proved once again why the club’s £14.5 million investment in January was peanuts.

For Rico Lewis’ strike, it was the Argentine’s sublime through ball that slipped the youngster in behind the Sevilla backline to score the much-needed equaliser.

As for City’s second goal of the evening, Alvarez latched on to an immaculate De Bruyne pass and instead of squaring it to Foden, his self-assuredness shone through, as he decided to dart past the ‘keeper and put the ball in the roof of the net.

To score the winner in such ice-cold fashion is a green flag for the Sky Blues, as they seem to have yet another No.9 who seems unfazed under the bright lights.

But Julian Alvarez wasn’t done yet, as his tireless pressing, which was a theme of his display all game meant he retained possession in a dangerous area and grabbed a pair of assists for Riyad Mahrez’s strike.

Manchester City’s recruitment department has smashed it out of the park yet again.

The inevitability of Kevin De Bruyne

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As Pep Guardiola unleashed the Belgian playmaker onto proceedings in the 68th minute, it only seemed like a matter of time before he would find a solution on a night where every City player struggled to up against a settled Sevilla defence.

And Kevin De Bruyne’s inevitability bordered on comical, as just four minutes in, he played the pass of the match from his signature right-sided half-space for Julian Alvarez’s winner.

In his last three games, the Sky Blues’ vice-captain has singlehandedly been the difference maker for his side; from De Bruyne’s belter against Brighton to secure a 3-1 win, his impeccable free-kick against Leicester and now his match-winning assist against Sevilla.

At this point, the midfield maestro turning a game on his head has become one of football’s worst kept secrets.

Grealish continues to look more comfortable in a City shirt

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In a first 45 where Manchester City were far from their free-flowing selves, Jack Grealish was perhaps the only attacking presence that looked the part from minute one.

It seems as if the Champions League tends to suit the Englishman, as often end-to-end game states call for swift decision-making, which stops him from overthinking in the final third, which is seemingly a flaw in his arsenal.

Keeping that in mind, Grealish was constantly beating defenders for fun, as his ball-carrying abilities and directness across all actions stood out.

Stitching attacks together, especially in tandem with Phil Foden in advanced areas whilst looking inches away from setting the assist for an opener that never came, the former Aston Villa superstar put in yet another encouraging showing before being substituted at half-time.

While Pep Guardiola confirmed that the 27-year old was only taken off to preserve his fitness, he also ended up describing him as the “best player in the first half”, as relayed by Simon Bajkowski of Manchester Evening News.

With Jack Grealish’s displays seeing a marked improvement so far this term, his outing on Wednesday night was another reason to be optimistic.

Ortega is a clear upgrade on Steffen

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It is no secret that Zack Steffen’s abysmal display in a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final was enough for the club to essentially show him the door.

While the odd poor performance is not a cause for meltdowns, it was extremely concerning to see how the USMNT shotstopper looked anything like a goalkeeper fit to play in Guardiola’s system in Ederson’s absence.

The same cannot be said for Stefan Ortega and especially against Sevilla as the side’s usual No.1 was not missed for a second.

On the ball, the German’s execution as well as selection of passes was top-notch all night. And when the former Arminia Bielefeld goalkeeper was called into action, he made himself big and ensured an upset was not on the cards.

For Rafa Mir’s opener, no goalkeeper could have done much about it and overall, it has been a pleasant surprise to see how quickly Ortega has settled in as the No.2.

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