Manchester City headed to Germany for the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash that would see them face RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena. Pep Guardiola’s side featured three changes to the starting lineup with Laporte and De Bruyne absent through illness, and the pair were replaced by Akanji and Ake. Riyad Mahrez also stepped in to replace Phil Foden.
RBL: Blaswich (GK); Halstenburg, Gvardiol, Orban (C), Klostermann; Schlager, Laimer; Werner, Forsberg, Szoboszlai; Silva
MCI: Ederson (GK); Ake, Dias, Akanji; Rodri, Bernardo Silva; Grealish, Gundogan (C), Mahrez, Walker; Haaland
City dominated the first half, with the first chance coming after thirteen minutes when Mahrez found Dias from a corner, but the Portuguese defender’s header was directed straight into the arms of Janis Blaswich.
It was Mahrez who found the opener for City with 27 minutes on the clock, firing a shot low into the bottom corner. It was a great bit of build-up play from City, who had taken advantage of a sloppy pass from Konrad Laimer.
Leipzig’s first shot on target came just before the break, when Timo Werner cut inside before unleashing a shot towards the top corner. Ederson was able to make the save, meaning Pep Guardiola’s side headed into half-time with a one-goal lead after a truly dominant performance.
Lukas Klostermann was replaced by Benjamin Henrichs at the break, and this was a substitution that would go on to change the course of the game. Henrichs’ first involvement came shortly after his introduction, as he headed his effort over the bar before drilling a low strike wide of the far post.
Andre Silva forced a save from Ederson ten minutes later, after being sent through on goal by Josko Gvardiol. Ederson did well to close the angle and keep City in the lead for the time being. Leipzig took the lead shortly after, though, as Gvardiol headed home from a corner to level the score with twenty minutes left to play.
Ilkay Gündoğan came close to restoring City’s lead almost immediately, but the German’s first-time finish was matched by an exceptional save from Janis Blaswich at the near post. The remaining fifteen minutes were relatively quiet, and as Serdar Gozubuyuk blew the whistle for full-time, there was nothing to separate the two sides.
City’s first half performance had been nothing but dominant. The hosts had had to wait 45 minutes for a shot on target, while City had produced numerous chances and taken the lead through Riyad Mahrez after 27 minutes. However, Leipzig emerged from the break as a completely revitalised team – pinning City back at times and finding an equaliser through a header from Josko Gvardiol.
The two sides will meet again on the 14th March, when Leipzig make the trip to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.