Manchester City 3-2 RB Leipzig: Treble winners top Group G with convincing comeback in Manchester

Having already confirmed qualification to the next round of the Champions League, Marco Roses’ side had nothing to lose as they travelled to Manchester to face the treble winners, Manchester City.

MCI: Ortega Moreno; Walker, Dias, Gvardiol; Rodri, Akanji; Foden, Bernardo Silva, Lewis, Grealish; Haaland

RBL: Blaswich; Haidara, Simakan, Klostermann, Lukeba, Raum; Forsberg, Seiwald, Schlager, Simons; Openda

Manchester City went into the game with an unbeaten Champions League home record of more than five years – their last defeat being against Lyon in September 2018 – and an unbeaten streak in Europe of 18 matches that they looked to extend further in this group stage game.

On the other hand, RB Leipzig were entering the game with the knowledge that they had conceded a total of 13 goals during their last two visits to the Etihad – with the most recent seeing Haaland net five.

Six minutes in, Leipzig had the first goalscoring opportunity of the game with Xavi Simons curling an effort marginally wide of the far post. This bright start for the visitors showed an early warning sign to the European Champions.

The Red Bulls’ positive opening continued as Lois Openda twisted past the marking of Akanji to reach the end of a long ball from Blaswich, which he slotted past the City keeper on 13 minutes.

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It was almost an immediate response from the Sky Blues with Bernardo Silva’s free kick headed over the bar by Ruben Dias in the 15th minute.

Leipzig continued to look threatening throughout the opening 30 minutes, proving to be a harder test than they were in February, and looking the more likely of the two sides to score.

Just before the half-hour mark there was a break in play to allow Jack Grealish to receive lengthy treatment on the pitch and be checked for concussion, following a strong tackle that saw a stray knee catch him.

The restart brought a lively Rico Lewis into action as he broke into the box but leant back too much before taking the shot, firing it over the bar.

Leipzig doubled their advantage in the 33rd minute with Openda scoring his brace, breaking down the left, bypassing Dias along the way, before cutting inside Gvardiol and striking past Ortega.

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The treble winners were once again close to a quick reply with the ball falling to star striker Erling Haaland in the box, his effort shot over the bar.

A frustrating first half of unfinished chances for City was brought to an end with Haaland heading a pinpoint cross into the box from Foden, straight at the keeper.

As the second half began, Pep Guardiola brought on Nathan Ake in defence, followed by an attacking double substitution of Alvarez and Doku ten minutes later, hoping to ignite a comeback.

And the game changed instantly. Erling Haaland obliterated another goalscoring record as ran onto Foden’s through ball, firing low past Blaswich, sparking the storm back to victory as he pulled one back for the hosts.

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The Norwegian striker became the fastest player to reach 40 Champions League goals, a milestone he reached within 35 matches – 10 matches faster than the previous record holder Ruud van Nistelrooy.

City dominated possession, moving the ball quicker and with more confidence as they hungrily searched for the equaliser with Ake coming close in the 68th minute, his header just off target.

In the 70th minute, the equaliser was scored. City’s fantastic fightback was well on track as Phil Foden collected Gvardiol’s pass on the half-turn, firing home into the bottom corner, through the legs of Nicolas Seiwald.

Leipzig went close to reclaiming their lead with Fabio Carvalho’s goal ruled offside in the 77th minute, but the European Champions’ comeback was completed by Julian Alvarez with three minutes of normal time to play.

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Foden was the provider once again as he linked up with Doku down the left, the pair playing the ball into Alvarez who fired home from close range to seal the victory and secure the treble winners’ position at the top of Group G.

RB Leipzig qualified for the knockouts finishing second in Group G with one game still to play in December where they will host Young Boys at the Red Bull Arena.