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Club Brugge
RB Leipzig
C. Nkunku (12), E. Forsberg (17), A. Silva (26), E. Forsberg (45), C. Nkunku (90)

Leipzig keep Europa League hopes alive with 5-0 thrashing of Brugge

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

RB Leipzig's first win in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League sees the Saxons maintain hope of obtaining a referral to the Europa League. 

The German representatives exacted revenge on Club Brugge for a 1-2 defeat in the Red Bull Arena in late September. 

Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg both bagged braces in a 5-0 rout at the Jan Breydel Stadium. 
Christopher Nkunku.
Christopher Nkunku.Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0
Though they are no longer eligible to make the grand European club competition's knockout round, RB Leipzig were able keep their hopes for the Europa League alive on Wednesday. A 5-0 thumping of club Brugge enables die roten Bullen to dream of spring 2022 European football in front of a fan-base currently unable to watch their team. 

With head-coach Jesse Marsch unable to run the team on the sidelines from quarantine, former SSV Jahn Regensburg, 1. FC Köln, and FSV Mainz trainer Achim Beierlorzer took over. The RB assistant coach had to do without several players on short notice, including four starters from the most recent league fixture. Willi Orban (non-corona infection), Dominik Szboszlai (ankle blisters)m, Tyler Adams (UCL yellow card suspension), and keeper Peter Gulaci (COVID) were all unavailable.

Backup keeper Josep Martinez thus started behind what looked suspiciously like one of former RB trainer Julian Nagelsmann's 4-2-2-2s. Konrad Laimer moved into the lineup to pair with Kevin Kampl. Emil Forsberg came on to take over for Szboszlai on the left-wing. Angelino and Nordi Mukiele fell back to work as fullbacks in back four with Lukas Klostermann and Josko Gvardiol. The much-feted Dutch youngster Brian Brobbey finally got his starting XI debut alongside André Silva.

The German visitors were able to get off to an energetic start, with Angelino, Mukiele, Gvardiol sending in quality efforts in the opening ten minutes. It would be Leipzig's red-hot French attacker who first found the back of the net in the 12th. Brugge keeper Simon Mignolet deflected a Silva effort directly into Christopher Nkunku's path. The 24-year-old slammed home for his most impressive 12th goal across all competitions this season.

Within four minutes, the German Red Bulls had the chance to double their advantage from the spot. Forsberg cooly converted a penalty after Kamal Sowah caught Brobbey inside the box. The Belgian hosts could not find a way to stop Leipzig's momentum. As the half-hour-mark crept up, Beierlorzer's squad retained a 10-0 shot advantage over their opponents. At long last, former VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Bas Dost was able to test Martinez in the 25th.

Two minutes after that, however, RB went up 3-0 on an excellent counterattack. Angelino tore up the right flank and, doing his best Filip Kostic impersonation, serviced Silva for the third goal. Forsberg then scored again on another counter at 45+1. Nkunku was able to supply the assist this time as Leipzig plunged the dagger into Blauw-Zwart hearts seconds before the half-time whistle.

A second-half played at reduced speed saw the same thing happen again just before the full-time whistle. After Silva missed several close opportunities to score his own brace, Nkunku secured one for himself at 90+3. Again, he was gifted a rebound to finish off. Substitute Hugo Novoa was responsible for the initial effort.

Leipzig's first win in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions' League moves them up to third-place in Group A. The Saxons can rise no higher in the group table. Germany's representatives in this group are nevertheless ahead of 4th-place Brugge by a plus-eleven goal differential. Hopes for an Europa League referral thus remain very much alive.

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