Manchester City ended their Champions League group campaign unbeaten with a 3-1 victory over Sevilla at the Etihad on Wednesday and gave their fans a new name to sing: Rico Lewis.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)
City actually had to come from behind after Rafa Mir opened the scoring for the Spaniards on the half-hour mark. However, three second-half goals from Lewis, Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez saw the home side rally to end the night as runaway winners of Group G.
In the process of sparking City’s revival with a powerful angled finish, young right-back Rico Lewis also broke new ground in the Champions League by, at 17 years and 346 days, becoming the youngest-ever player to score on their first start in the competition.
“Words can’t describe the feeling,” he later wrote on Instagram. “First start and goal for this amazing club, I won’t forget this day for the rest of my life. Can’t thank the fans enough, amazing as usual!”
The record had previously belonged to one Karim Benzema, who was 17 years and 352 days when he opened his account on his Champions League debut for Lyon in a 2-1 victory over Rosenborg back in December 2005 — 15 days after Lewis had celebrated his first birthday.
After notching against Sevilla on just his fifth senior appearance, Lewis is now also the second-youngest English player to score in the Champions League behind Jude Bellingham, who was 17 years and 290 days old when he found the net for Borussia Dortmund against City in last season’s quarterfinal second leg between the two sides.
#OnThisDay in 2⃣0⃣2⃣0⃣
🤩 #UCL Debüt von Youssoufa #Moukoko 🆚 Zenit 🔝🔥@BVB | @BlackYellow pic.twitter.com/RIzBkslkFY
— UEFA.com DE (@UEFAcom_de) December 8, 2021
However, Lewis is way off the pace when it comes to being the youngest Champions League debutant. That record belongs to another Dortmund prodigy, Youssoufa Moukoko, who was 16 years and 18 days when he came off the bench to make his maiden appearance in the competition against Zenit St Petersburg in December 2020.
Inter vs Barcelona 🔜
Ansu Fati became the youngest Champions League scorer ever, in this fixture back in 2019 ⚽️@ANSUFATI || #UCL pic.twitter.com/TS3yyZpFzN
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 3, 2022
Lewis is also a veritable veteran in comparison to the record holder for the youngest Champions League goal scorer. Ansu Fati leads the way there, as he was 17 years and 40 days old when he scored his first European goal for Barcelona against Inter Milan in December 2019.
🔵⚫️ Antonio Nusa becomes the second youngest scorer ever in this competition!@ClubBrugge || #UCL pic.twitter.com/73RSNrU3Qm
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 16, 2022
Antonio Nusa of Club Brugge became the youngest player (17 years and 189 days) in history to score on his Champions League debut outright earlier this season, when he came off the bench late to score the Belgian side’s fourth goal in a 4-0 drubbing of Porto in September.
Should Lewis find the net again in the knockout phase this season, he is already too old to clinch the record for the youngest player to score in the latter stages. Bojan Krkic was 17 years and 217 days old when he scored for Barcelona against Schalke in the second leg of the 2007-08 quarterfinals.
The youngest player to play in the knockout stages during the Champions League era is Rayan Cherki who was 17 years and two days old when he turned out for Lyon against Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 semifinals.
– Champions League knockout round draw: Seedings, date, time
Not that any of that will bother Lewis, when the words of lavish praise from manager Pep Guardiola are still fresh in his mind.
“He’s so smart. He made a standing ovation all the way down, he played really good,” Guardiola said after the match.
“He is so clever, so intelligent. If you say something, he doesn’t need to practice more because he knows what happened during the game.
“We see him every day. We don’t give presents here. Not just because he is a City fan from the academy is he going to play. You have to earn it.”
Lewis has certainly earned his place in the Champions League record books.