HomeNewsEUROPA, HERE COMES LEIPZIG!

EUROPA, HERE COMES LEIPZIG!

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Leipzig welcomed Manchester City, aiming to match or better Club Brugge’s result in order to finish third. The German outfit parted ways with Jesse Marsch over the weekend after a run of three straight defeats. Meanwhile, the Cityzens have already qualified as group-winners over PSG.

It was an even start with little to separate the two sides in the first 15 minutes. City had rested several regulars while Leipzig knew their needs were more urgent. Konrad Laimer had the first shot on target, forcing Zack Steffen into a low stop at his near post.

 

City were not sitting back for too long, going close with Kyle Walker’s cross first before Jack Grealish’s shot took a touch off a defender before going over. But it was the home side who eventually took the lead. Laimer’s perfect through ball pierced the City backline to find Dominic Szoboszlai who rounded Steffen before slotting the ball into the empty net. Emil Forsberg almost made it two minutes later but was denied by a quick reaction save from Steffen.

 

The City number two was in inspired form, denying Andre Silva’s point blank header from two yards out. Phil Foden had the best chance for the visitors, with Phil Foden’s angled shot brushing the tips of Peter Gulacsi before ratting the post. The Hungarian was then diving to his right to keep out Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick as the first half ended.

 

The start after the break was identical to the first period, but City were seeing more of the ball now. However, their attack still remained disjointed with no shots on target. With 20 minutes to go, they fell further behind. A quick counter-attack from Leipzig led by Forsberg found Andre Silva in space near the penalty spot. The striker took a touch to settle himself before rifling the ball past Steffen and into the net.

 

City immediately got one back, Oleksander Zinchenko’s cross going right across the face of goal all the way to Riyad Mahrez who stooped to head it home. But things got harder once again, as Kyle Walker was shown a direct red card for kicking out at Silva and fouling him with eight minutes remaining. De Bruyne went close with a shot from distance that whistled wide.

 

There was nothing much happening as the game wind down as Leipzig inflicted City’s first defeat since October to move into the Europa League.

Here are the three key takeaways from the match:

HUGE WIN FOR A DEMORALISED SIDE

Having lost three consecutive league games, the mood in the Leipzig camp was less than ideal. Marsch’s marching orders felt inevitable and with City in such a dominant mood in the Premier League, it felt like another loss was on the horizon. But Die Roten Bullen started brilliantly, full of energy and running with only Steffen keeping the score down in the first half.

 

Silva did get a deserved goal and even though City pulled one back, Leipzig held on to see the win through. Though it came against a team that was without a lot of regular star names, nonetheless it would lifted much of the gloom around the club at the moment.

 

CITY SHINE IN MOMENTS

Not one of the finest outings of the season for Pep Guardiola and co. Granted the decision to rest the starters was a given after they had already secured first place but this was a drab showing. Jack Grealish and Phil Foden had one really standout moment each, while Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne were anonymous for large parts.

 

Mahrez was lively, getting the goal even but the defence showed rustiness at having playing so little alongside each other. That was certainly not the case for Steffen who was singlehandedly responsible for keeping the scoreline respectable. Walker’s sending off compounded a disappointed evening as he will now miss the first leg of the round of 16.

 

CONTRASTING LEARINGS FOR EACH SIDE

Guardiola will realise that he cannot afford to rest his key players too much, given the backups are especially adequate replacements. Walker will be a big absentee in the knockouts too. For Leipzig, this win could start a new dawn for the club as the hunt for the next manager has already gotten underway. They have a very fine squad that can go deep in the Europa League alongside finishing in the Bundesliga top four.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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