After a nightmare start to their Champions League odyssey, RB Leipzig welcomed Scottish champions Celtic to the floodlit Red Bull Arena. Sat above Leipzig by a solitary point in Group F ahead of tonight, Marco Rose and Co. knew this was a must-win game if they are to have any chance of progression. Statistics lay in favour of Leipzig ahead of kick-off – Celtic failing to win in any of their previous 13 visits to German opposition in Champions League action. The Glasgow side have been a tricky nut to crack this season, and tonight was no different when Leipzig were forced to work hard for a 3-1 victory.
|André Silva.||Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Die Roten Bullen eventually hit the front on 27 minutes. Nkunku compensated for his earlier offside goal by rounding Hart and squeezing the ball inside the post for 1-0. In what could only be described as a stop-start opening half of football, Leipzig held the bulk of chances barring a 5-minute spell for the Glasgow side. The best of those opportunities fell to Szoboszlai and Andre Silva who were unlucky not to double their side’s lead before the break.
The Scottish visitors made the best possible start to the second half inside three minutes. Leipzig feebly surrendered possession to Hatate in midfield and with the defence exposed, the Japanese midfielder slipped in Kyogo who unselfishly set up Jota for a 48th minute tap-in. A beautiful flowing move just before the hour point almost restored RB’s lead when Szoboszlai hit the post after some fine one touch football. The Hungarian’s luck worsened in the subsequent attack when his goal was also chalked off by VAR thanks to Silva impairing Hart’s view. However, Celtic’s Hart would quickly go on to aid Leipzig minutes later. A poor pass gave the ball directly to Szoboszlai who fed Silva and his shot nestled in the goal with some assistance from the post.
With 15 minutes to play Marco Rose’s side looked to have put the game to bed. Having linked up so well all night, Nkunku telegraphed another stunning pass to the advancing Simakan, who crossed on the volley for Silva. The Portuguese man was left with the most routine of finishes, slotting past the Celtic shot stopper for a second time. Leipzig never looked back from that point on. An air of relief etched across Rose’s face as he and his players secure their first win of the Champions League campaign. Die Roten Bullen leapfrog Celtic in Group F into third ahead of the return clash in Glasgow next Tuesday.