RB Leipzig 1-1 Manchester City in the Champions League

Josko Gvardiol secured a 1-1 draw for RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester City.

Riyad Mahrez gave City the lead before the half-hour, crowning a dominant opening from the Premier League champions.

But Leipzig emerged with renewed purpose after the break and halftime substitute Benjamin Henrichs twice went close before Croatia defender Gvardiol converted Marcel Halstenberg’s cross as City were caught napping from a short corner.

The Champions League last 16 has not been kind to Premier League teams so far, with Tottenham and Chelsea slipping to 1-0 defeats away from home against AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund respectively before Real Madrid deafeted Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield.

City looked certain to break that slump as they played with total authority during the first half. Guardiola sent out a more conventional back four than he has deployed in recent weeks but, in practice, Kyle Walker almost played as a right winger in possession and this was an unexpected threat Leipzig failed to deal with.

The knock-on from Walker’s placement was Mahrez being allowed to operate in-field, much closer to centre-forward Erling Haaland, and the goal was his reward for taking up these positions. Jack Grealish snaffled a slack pass from Xaver Schlager and found Ilkay Gundogan, whose deft backheel took Gvardiol out of the game and left Mahrez to rifle home his 12th of the season.

City were unable to make their dominance count further, with a Rodri header from a Mahrez corner just evading Haaland before the impressive Grealish curled narrowly over the top corner.

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Marco Rose’s decision to introduce Henrichs at the break gave Leipzig extra attacking thrust and he headed off target before drilling a glorious chance just past the post.

Ederson was called upon to make a sharp save from Andre Silva and divert a Timo Werner cross away from Emil Forsberg.

Haaland belatedly got half a sight of goal when he shot wide from a tight angle on the end of a Grealish throughball but the man he sprinted past on that occasion, Gvardiol, got the goal at the other end after Ederson turned Dominik Szoboszlai’s drive over the bar. 

Christopher Nkunku looks to have one last run at the City backline but Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva stuff out the danger. That’s all we have time for. City were excellent before halftime and will probably be the happier of the sides with the result, in a round where all the other English teams have lost. Still, in a season where City have lacked their customary control. Over the past week, at Nottingham Forest and tonight, they have relocated that control and won neither match. 

Guardiola comes out onto the field and cajoles his players before they head over to take the applause of the travelling supporters.


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