Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was full of praise for teenager Rico Lewis after his display against RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening.
The 18-year-old helped Manchester City move to the top of Group G, as Manchester City beat Bundesliga side RB Leipzig 3-1 in east Germany, courtesy of two late goals from substitutes Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku.
Rico Lewis linked up brilliantly with Phil Foden to open the scoring in the first-half, however Lois Openda drew RB Leipzig level minutes in the second-half after a fast counter-attack.
Pep Guardiola’s side created a series of chances in search of regaining their lead, as Erling Haaland missed two brilliant opportunities against an opponent he scored five goals against last season.
Manchester City substitutes Alvarez and Doku combined twice late on to secure a 3-1 victory, with a stunning curling effort from Alvarez putting the Sky Blues back ahead in the 84th minute.
Doku ensured the Blues’ first victory at the Red Bull Arena on the counter-attack in the 92nd minute, as the summer signing scored his first UEFA Champions League goal.
Despite the impressive cameo performance from the pair, teenager Rico Lewis stole the headlines for Manchester City, making just his second start of the campaign on Wednesday evening.
The 18-year-old played a key role in the victory, and could have staked a claim to start at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon, as Guardiola contends with the absence of Rodri due to suspension.
Lewis signed a new long-term contract at the Etihad Stadium in the summer, and post-match, Guardiola lauded the Englishman as “one of the best” he has trained.
“What a player. What a player. 18 years old,” exclaimed the Manchester City manager.
“I have been a manager for 14, 15 years training unbelievable players. To find a player like him playing in the pockets, how he has to move in holding midfield, full-back coming inside moving in the spaces – he is one of the best I ever trained by far.
“He is a humble guy, doesn’t talk much, but has the appreciation of all his mates.
“He didn’t play much this season – last season he was a key point and helped us understand what we should do in our build up. Today was proof again.
“This season he hasn’t played as much but he is going to play a lot.
“His composure from day one is always surprising. I didn’t even consider bringing him on pre-season the previous one.
“Carlos Vicens said ‘maybe you can bring Rico’. Because he can play right-back, left back, I didn’t know him.
“Then he played against Bayern Munich at right-back and I thought this guy is good!
“Then he started training with us and I said ‘oh this guy is good!’ When you play inside, you have to be 360 and you have passes coming from everywhere, that is the most difficult position to play. As a central defender, all you see is in front of you.
“He is a big talent and to find that is not easy, to come from the Academy, he always trained so good. I’m very pleased for him. He deserves all the praise from ourselves and the media – he deserves it.
“He is a member of the squad in ability. Most important thing for a player is when you gain the respect of your teammates. When your mates can rely on you on the pitch, you are in heaven.
“This is the most important thing by far. The players are not stupid. They smell everything on the pitch. They know who they can rely on on the pitch – and they can rely on him.”
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