It took some time to get the floodgates to open, but RB Leipzig were eventually able to turn the screws and secure a big win in front of their hometown fans in the Bundesliga's Saturday night game.
France's Christopher Nkunku--courtesy of two league braces, a Champions' League hat trick, and two other tallies in the UCL and cup--now has nine goals across all competitions in the young campaign.
|Christopher Nkunku.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Andreas Pranter|
RB trainer Jesse Marsch, who demanded more consistency from his team this week, made four personnel changes and rolled out a very avant garde tactical system. Replacing Nordi Mukiele, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Konrad Laimer were Angelino, Josko Gvardiol, and Amadou Haidara. Defensive anchor Willi Orban had to miss out with the flu. Tyler Adams, on the other hand, was once again healthy and fit enough to start.
About the only consistent thing about Leipzig's shape was a back-three featuring Mohamed Simakan as the centralized pivot. The Frenchman, one of the few Saxon players off to a consistent start this season, was flanked by Gvardiol and Lukas Klostermann. Adams and Angelino shifted positions often as interesting winger-wingback-fullback hybrids. The five remaining midfielders/attackers also rotated heavily.
The 4-2-3-1 of VfL Bochum trainer Thomas Reis, with Robert Tesche and Anthony Losilla in midfield, proved difficult to crack. The hosts appeared to have an early penalty after referee Robert Hartmann ruled that Herbert Bockhorn caught Angelino on a high-boot 50-50. After taking another look on the VAR monitor, however, Hartmann decided that Bockhorn played the ball first and waved off his decision.
The NRW guests were able to keep up for a while and ran with the heavily favored hosts during what was a very fast-paced first half. Leipzig engineers far more chances, but were living rather dangerously with deep back builds. On a couple of occasions, this nearly led to the 1848ers breaking through on several occasions. Defensively, Bochum clogged the middle of their danger area.
Emil Forsberg and Yussuf Poulsen were frequently frustrated despite receiving the ball in promising positions. This happened on a couple of occasions with Christopher Nkunku as well. VfL keeper Manuel Riemann was very much on his game with several quality saves in the opening 45. RB entered the tunnel with a clear xG advantage (1.19 to 0.09), but the score remained 0-0.
The hosts continued to enjoy the chance advantage after the restart, with some heavy touches from Adams, Nkunku, and Poulsen leaving the crowd a bit nervous that their team would score a goal. Marsch waited to made his first change until just after the hour mark. He didn't bring on fresh attackers until nine minutes later, when Szobiszlai and Silva relieved Forsberg and Poulsen.
Some 40 seconds after their introduction, the two players combined for the opening goal. Silva finished off a Szoboszlai corner with a sharp glancing header that sent Riemann reeling backwards as the ball crossed over the line.
Three minutes later, Nkunku finished over Riemann with a chip following some good midfield work from Adams and Silva. Nkunku would then get his brace with another elegant chip in the 78th. Gvardiol supplied the assist.
The win pulls Leipzig up to 7th place in the table. Bochum are now assured of second-to-last place over the international break, just ahead of fellow promoted team Fürth.
|1||Péter Gulácsi (C)|
|2||Mohamed Simakan ↩80|
|44||Kevin Kampl ↩79|
|18||Christopher Nkunku ⚽⚽|
|10||Emil Forsberg ↩69|
|9||Yussuf Poulsen ↩69|
|33||André Silva ↪69 ⚽|
|38||Hugo Novoa Ramos|
|22||Nordi Mukiele ↪61|
|17||Dominik Szoboszlai ↪69|
|26||Moriba Kourouma Kourouma ↪79|
|27||Konrad Laimer ↪80|
|8||Anthony Losilla (C)|
|23||Robert Tesche ↩82|
|22||Christopher Antwi-Adjej ↩78|
|20||Elvis Rexhbecaj ↩78|
|17||Gerrit Holtmann ↩73|
|10||Takuma Asano ↩77|
|7||Danny Blum ↪77|
|27||Miloš Pantović ↪78|
|40||Sebastian Polter ↪73|
|6||Patrick Osterhage ↪82|
|38||Eduard Löwen ↪78|