With Tuesday’s 3-2 home triumph over Real Madrid, RB Leipzig moved much closer to the Champions League knockout stage.
The German team currently sits in second place in Group F with nine points three ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and one behind group leaders Real. They will require a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk next week in their last group game.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti benched key starters after Real Madrid secured a spot in the round of 16 and the young Leipzig squad quickly established its superiority.
We let up two goals on two set pieces, and then it became the kind of game they wanted, with them playing on the counterattack, where they excel, as Ancelotti said after the game. We were dominant in play but ultimately lost due to a counterattack. The two goals we gave up gave them the victory they were hoping for.
Josko Gvardiol scored for the home team after Thibaut Courtois saved a bullet header from Andre Silva. This put the home team up 1-0 after 13 minutes.
A mere five minutes later, with the European champions still reeling from the initial blow, Leipzig doubled their lead when a pass from David Raum into the box was intercepted by a defender and fell to the waiting feet of the lightning-fast Christopher Nkunku, who fired it in off the crossbar.
Amadou Haidara’s effort from the edge of the box was saved by Courtois and Nkuku’s close-range shot went wide when he beat the onrushing Madrid keeper to the ball but was forced to shoot from an awkward angle.
Based on the way we started the game I believe we were caught asleep against a very aggressive team Courtois stated after the loss. We started slowly and suffered the price. Coach Ancelotti warned us before the game that they are a tough squad at home, highly aggressive.
We can’t allow two early goals to come from corners, and our performance so far has been terrible. Real got on the board again right before halftime thanks to a header from Vinicius Junior that went inside the left post.
However, in the 81st minute, Leipzig went ahead 3-1 after Timo Werner scored from close range to cap a swift counterattack.
“During some stretches, we expected to be pushed back since Madrid is so good with the ball,” Werner added. That’s what [coach Marco] Rose wanted us to do, so we were really confident when we had the ball.
Ultimately, our efforts paid off and we were able to accomplish our goals. We may still advance to the round of 16 even if we lose to Shakhtar on Wednesday.
Despite Rodrygo scoring a penalty for Real’s second goal in stoppage time, the team nonetheless suffered their first loss of the season across all competitions.
Ancelotti was calm after the loss, saying, “I’m not angry, a defeat irritates us, but it’s a defeat that doesn’t affect us a lot.” In our rematch with Celtic, we have a shot at first place in the league. We are now living through the inevitable. When a team has performed this well up to this point, it’s hard for me to be too harsh on them.
Losing teaches you more than winning ever would. Tonight, our set-piece play lacked oomph.
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