Men's Team

Lewis impresses in all-action England debut

Rico Lewis made an excellent start to his England senior career in a 1-1 draw with North Macedonia.

Lewis, voted England's Man of the Match, was one of four City players to start in what was the Three Lions' final European Championships group qualification game.

Kyle Walker captained Gareth Southgate’s side for the first time in the Group C clash, while team-mates Jack Grealish and Phil Foden also started.

IN CONVERSATION WITH RICO LEWIS | MAN CITY PODCAST

Lewis, the second youngest City player to represent England, started at left-back and was soon drifting inside to support the midfield with a maturity that belied his age.

He had the chance to make a spectacular start to his international career when the ball fell to him just inside the box, but he blazed his effort high over the crossbar with barely three minutes played.

Foden, playing in a central midfield role, continually linked up well with the lively Grealish on the left, as well as supporting skipper Walker on the right flank.

Declan Rice came close to opening the score on 14 minutes as he saw a powerful low shot smack the inside of the post.

But the hosts were compact and organised, frustrating England without creating very much.

However, a rare attack just before the break saw Lewis leap to make a fine headed clearance, but his hand brushed the head of Bojan Miovski who went down holding his face.

It was innocuous and completely accidental, but the referee was advised by the VAR to look at the pitch-side monitor and his decision was to award a penalty.

It was a poor decision to say the least, but the home side weren’t complaining and though Jordan Pickford saved Ensi Bardhi’s spot-kick, the same played tucked the rebound home as it landed at his feet.

England looked to have levelled two minutes into the second-half when Bukayo Saka’s cross was turned in by Grealish at the far post, but VAR disallowed the goal – correctly – for offside.

The effervescent Grealish and Foden continually tried to open up a determined North Macedonia defence, while Lewis popped up just about everywhere, linking up play or making important challenges.

And just before the hour-mark, England were deservedly level as Foden’s corner was headed past his own keeper by Jani Atanasov to make it 1-1.

It looked as though England would go on to dominate, but the home side doggedly dug in.

Kalvin Phillips came on after 84 minutes, while Grealish was replaced by Cole Palmer meaning there were THREE City Academy graduates on the pitch at the same time – another remarkable milestone for the Club.

However, there was to be no third goal and the game ended 1-1 - though, the performance of Lewis was a highlight of an otherwise disappointing display by the already-qualified England.

Mancity.com

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