Pep Guardiola hailed Rico Lewis as one of the best players he has ever coached after his starring role in Manchester City’s hard-fought win at RB Leipzig.
The 18-year-old produced a commanding display as the holders maintained the winning start to their Champions League defence with a 3-1 success at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
Lewis, who made his first-team breakthrough as a right-back last season, had a hand in Phil Foden’s opening goal and proved City’s main driving force throughout.
City manager Guardiola, the former Barcelona boss whose past players have included Lionel Messi, said: “What a player! What a player!
“I’ve been a manager for 14, 15, years and lucky to train one of the best players in the world in Barcelona.
“To find a player like him playing in the pockets, how he has to move as a holding midfielder, moving in the spaces, he is one of the best I’ve ever trained by far.
“He’s a humble guy, doesn’t talk much. He didn’t play much this season but he is going to play a lot.”
Despite Lewis’ contributions, it took the introduction of substitutes Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku to secure a hard-fought victory.
City controlled the first half and led at the break through Foden’s 25th-minute strike but they were pegged back after the restart by Lois Openda.
The second half was a frustrating affair with Erling Haaland missing several chances and Foden hitting the bar but Alvarez made the breakthrough with a stunning effort on 84 minutes.
Doku wrapped up a second successive win in Group G in injury time.
After back-to-back defeats domestically, Guardiola was pleased to get back to winning ways.
He said: “Three or four days ago it was no progress because we lost in Wolves. It was important to break that.
“We played a fantastic game in all departments. We conceded two or three transitions in the second half but it’s normal. When a team is able to make a lot of passes early on, very nice things are going to happen in the game.
“The guys who came from the bench, the contribution they have done is the key point. Everyone helped each other. I am really satisfied. It was a tough game.”
Leipzig coach Marco Rose was pleased with the effort of his side but had no complaints about the result.
Rose said: “Manchester City deserved to win, even if it was 1-1 in the 83rd minute and we had hoped to hold on until the end.
“We did well after the break and got our equaliser. It was then an open game then but City put us under pressure at the death again. We are learning from the best.”