RB Leipzig took a big step closer to the Champions League knockout stage with a 3-2 home win over Real Madrid on Tuesday.
The German side are second in Group F on nine points, one behind leaders Real and three ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk, whom they will face in their final group game next week in need of a draw to guarantee them a top-two spot.
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With Real Madrid already having qualified for the last 16, manager Carlo Ancelotti rested several regular starters and his side were dominated early by the young Leipzig team.
“We conceded two goals from two set pieces and then the game was the kind of game that they wanted, playing on the counterattack, they’re very good at that,” Ancelotti said after the match. “We controlled the game, but crashed on the counter. It was the two goals we conceded that made it the game they wanted.”
The home side took the lead 13 minutes into the game with Josko Gvardiol scoring on the rebound from a Thibaut Courtois save after a bullet header by Andre Silva.
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.
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.
“It’s unacceptable our performance in the beginning of the match, we can’t concede two goals from corners in the start of the match.”
Vinicius Junior put Real back into the game just before the break with a header that went just inside the left post.
But a Timo Werner strike from close range to finish a quick counter-attack in the 81st minute put Leipzig 3-1 up.
“We knew Madrid were strong on the ball and there would be phases where we were pushed back,” Werner said. “[Manager Marco] Rose told us to be brave when in possession and that’s what we did.
“We have achieved what we wanted. We have it in our own hands (to go through to the last 16) and don’t even need to win against Shakhtar now.”
After being fouled, Rodrygo got up to convert a penalty for Real’s second goal in added time but it was not enough to avoid their first loss in all competitions this season.
“I’m not angry, a defeat annoys us but it’s a defeat that doesn’t hurt us a lot,” Ancelotti said. “We have another chance to finish first against Celtic. It had to happen at some point and it happens today. I can’t be too critical of a team that has done so well until now.
“You learn more from a defeat than 10 wins in a row. We weren’t convincing from set pieces tonight.”