The UEFA Europa League (UEL) beckons for RB Leipzig after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over already-qualified Manchester City – becoming the first German side to conquer City in 15 attempts.
In light of Jesse Marsch’s departure, a new Leipzig dawn began with the daunting visit of Manchester City, who had already been crowned group winners. Leipzig themselves were resigned to missing out on the next round of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), but a place in the UEL was still up for grabs. Victory would assure Leipzig would be playing knockout European football in the new year, and Konrad Laimer ought to have fired them into a lead when his original cross found its way back to his feet, but Zack Steffen got down well to keep out his snap-shot.
Leipzig didn’t let City off the hook again though. Laimer was the provider this time as he threaded through to Dominik Szoboszlai, who raced through on goal, rounded Steffen and rolled into an empty net. Kevin De Bruyne was spearheading the City response and pulling the strings from midfield, but Péter Gulácsi was equal to his dipping free-kick and his sensational save provided Leipzig with a platform to wrap up the game. However, some lax passing from John Stones was pounced upon by Emil Forsberg, who squared for André Silva to rifle home from close range and double Leipzig’s advantage.
City weren’t going to let Leipzig cruise to victory though, and halved the arrears with 15 minutes left to play. Oleksandr Zinchenko whipped in a teasing delivery and Riyad Mahrez ghosted in at the back post to steer a header past Gulácsi. City’s hard work to get back into the game was undone by a Kyle Walker moment of madness, in which he took a wild swing at Szoboszlai and received his marching orders. Victory guarantees Leipzig’s transfer to the UEL, whilst for City, their UCL journey will continue in February – albeit now without Walker.