Timo Werner was amongst the goals as RB Leipzig sealed a famous 3-2 victory over reigning champions Real Madrid at the Red Bull Arena – a result that puts them on the brink of progressing to the knockout stages.
With qualification already secured and needing just a draw to guarantee top spot, a shellshocked Los Blancos found themselves two goals down inside 18 minutes.
Their defence switched off as Dominik Szoboszlai whipped in a corner, picking out Andre Silva whose bullet header was kept out by Thibaut Courtois. But he could only palm it into the path of Josko Gvardiol made no mistake with his headed effort.
It got even better for Leipzig five minutes later when, after Real Madrid failed to clear their lines from another corner, a deflected shot fell kindly to Christopher Nkunku and his rifled shot crashed in off the crossbar for his seventh goal in as many games.
The visitors halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time courtesy of a magical moment from Vinicius Junior. Marco Asensio sprinted to the by-line, pulled a cross back to the Brazilian who beautifully guided a sublime header past Janis Blaswich.
That inspired Carlo Ancelotti’s side as they piled on the pressure after the restart. But they were always susceptible to the counterattack and Leipzig almost put the game to bed when substitute Werner’s shot drifted agonisingly wide of the far post.
The usually ruthless Vinicius Junior spurned a gilt-edged chance from point-blank range before Werner finally wrapped it up, slotting into an empty net after receiving a pinpoint cross from Mohamed Simakan. A late penalty from Rodrygo was just a consolation.
Victory gives RB Leipzig a three-point cushion over third-placed Shakhtar Donetsk – who drew with Celtic 1-1 – meaning the Bundesliga side need just a point when they meet the Ukrainian club next Wednesday.
TALKING POINT – A NIGHT THAT WILL GO DOWN IN RB LEIPZIG’S HISTORY
After two group games, many had already written off RB Leipzig’s chances of progressing in the tournament. After all, they had suffered a humiliating 4-1 home defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk on the opening day and were then beaten 2-0 by Real Madrid in the reverse fixture. However, in a spectacular twist, the side currently ranked eighth in the Bundesliga standings have managed to pull off three consecutive CL victories – something they had never managed before in their short history – to put them on the brink of qualification.
Yes, Los Blancos were already safely through and yes, they were missing key players such as Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Federico Valverde. But it still took a special performance to inflict a first defeat of the season on Carlo Ancelotti’s men, with every player in white performing to the best of their ability.
Now all Marco Rose’s side need is a draw against Shakhtar next Wednesday in Warsaw. Their away form hasn’t been great so far this season but tonight’s result should give them the belief they need to see the job through.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – MOHAMED SIMAKAN (RB LEIPZIG)
There are at least three contenders for the honour, but Simakan edges it over Nkunku and the excellent Willi Orban in defence. The 22-year-old has often been compared with the great Lilian Thuram and tonight’s performance justified such hype.
The full-back worked tirelessly up and down the flank and provided his side’s third goal with a lung-busting run, displaying athleticism and delivering a pinpoint cross.
Real Madrid: Courtois 6, Vazquez 6, Militao 6, Rudiger 5, Nacho 6, Camavinga 7, Tchouameni 7, Kroos 5, Asensio 7, Rodrygo 6, Vinicius Junior 7.. subs: Lunin, Lopez, Carvajal 5, Alaba 5, Vallejo, Hazard N/A, Odriozola, Mendy, Dotor, Arribas, Rodriguez.
RB Leipzig: Blaswich 7, Simakan 9*, Gvardiol 8, Orban 8, Raum 7, Haidara 8, Schlager 7, Szoboszlai 7, Nkunku 8, Forsberg 7, Silva 6.. subs: Olmo 6, Werner 7, Diallo 5, Henrichs N/A, Kampl N/A
13’ – GOAL! RB LEIPZIG 1-0 REAL MADRID (JOSKO GVARDIOL): RB Leipzig take a shock lead! Oh my!Szoboszlai whips in a lovely corner, picking out Silva whose bullet header is somehow kept out by Courtois. But he can only palm it into the path of Gvardiol and he’s left with an empty net to head into.
18’ – GOAL! RB LEIPZIG 2-0 REAL MADRID (CHRISTOPHER NKUNKU): RB Leipzig are in dreamland! Los Blancos are caught sleeping as the hosts work a short corner. A shot is deflected into the path of Nkunku who takes a touch to set himself before rifling the ball off the crossbar and over the line! Seven goals in seven games for Nkunku!
44’ – GOAL! RB LEIPZIG 2-1 REAL MADRID (VINICIUS JUNIOR): A stunning header from Vinicius Junior drags Real Madrid back into the game just before half-time. Asensio sprints to the by-line and carves out a beautiful cross to the penalty spot and a splendid header is guided to the far post by Vinicius Junior. Sublime.
81’ – GOAL! RB LEIPZIG 3-1 REAL MADRID (TIMO WERNER): That will settle it! Werner makes it 3-1! It’s brilliant movement from Werner as he times his run perfectly to meet Simakan’s pinpoint cross and slots it into an empty net!
90’+3 – GOAL! RB LEIPZIG 3-2 REAL MADRID (RODRYGO, PEN): Excellent spot-kick from Rodrygo as he sends the goalkeeper the wrong way. Too late for a comeback, surely?