RB Leipzig hand Real Madrid first Champions League loss
With a 3-2 home win over Real Madrid on Tuesday, RB Leipzig moved one step closer to the Champions League knockout round.
The German team is second in Group F with nine points, one point behind champions Real Madrid and three points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk, whom they will meet in their last group game next week, needing a draw to ensure a top-two berth.
With Real Madrid had qualified for the knockout stages, manager Carlo Ancelotti rested numerous regular starters, and his club was overpowered early on by the inexperienced Leipzig team.
“We allowed two goals from set pieces, and then the game became the type of game that they wanted, playing on the counterattack, which they’re extremely excellent at,” Ancelotti remarked after the game. “We dominated the game but struggled on the counter. The two goals we gave up made it the game they wanted.”
Josko Gvardiol scored on the rebound of a Thibaut Courtois save following a bullet header by Andre Silva 13 minutes into the contest.
With the European champions still recovering from the first blow, Leipzig extended their lead five minutes later when David Raum tried to pass into the box but the ball deflected off a defender into the path of Christopher Nkunku who was quick to react and rifled the ball in off the crossbar.
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Leipzig had two more great chances, but Courtois saved Amadou Haidara’s strike from the edge of the box and Nkuku put a close-range shot wide after beating the onrushing Madrid keeper to the ball but ending up with a tight angle trying to find the empty net.
“I think we came out very distracted in the beginning of the game and were caught sleeping against a team that is very aggressive,” Courtois said after the match. “Coach Ancelotti warned us before the game that they are a feisty team at home, very aggressive, but we still started slow and paid the price.
“Our performance in the first half is terrible; we cannot surrender two goals from corners in the first half.”
Vinicius Junior got Real back in the game with a header that went just inside the left post right before halftime. But Timo Werner’s close-range shot to conclude a fast counter-attack in the 81st minute put Leipzig ahead 3-1.
“We thought Madrid would be powerful on the ball and we would be pushed back,” Werner remarked. “[Manager Marco] Rose instructed us to be courageous when we had possession, so we did.”