Leipzig 1-1 Man City: Gvardiol earns first-leg draw after Mahrez opener
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Leipzig recovered from going behind to rescue a draw against Man City in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
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Marco Rose's Leipzig withstood Manchester City's early dominance at the RB Arena to level after the break, leaving this round of 16 encounter finely poised.
26': Mahrez powers City ahead
30': Rodri nods across face of goal
55': Henrichs side-foots narrowly wide
70': Gvardiol levels with powerful header
73': Blaswich keeps out Gündoğan effort
Match in brief: A tale of two halves in Leipzig
Pep Guardiola's side dominated the first half but had little to show for their early possession. The only attempt on target from either side in the opening 25 minutes came when Rúben Dias nodded a Riyad Mahrez corner straight at Janis Blaswich.
However, the visitors proved just how ruthless they can be in attack when Jack Grealish pounced on an under-hit Xaver Schlager pass before threading a ball into the area for the lively Mahrez, who sent a left-footed strike across the Leipzig goalkeeper and into the far corner.
City could have gone in at the break further ahead, but Rodri headed across the face of goal with Erling Haaland unable to turn the ball into the net.
Leipzig were a different prospect after the interval and half-time substitute Benjamin Henrichs spurned two chances to level in as many minutes. The defender sent a powerful header from Marcel Halstenberg's centre narrowly over before firing wide with only Ederson to beat.
Shortly after the hour, the goalkeeper had to be alert to race off of his line to deny André Silva and then pulled off a stunning stop from Dominik Szoboszlai's long-range curler.
From the resulting corner, Leipzig's pressure finally told. Halstenberg's high, hanging cross left Ederson stranded and was met by the leap of Joško Gvardiol, who sent a towering header past the helpless keeper.
City went closest to finding a winner in the closing stages but Blaswich was equal to İlkay Gündoğan's low strike, ensuring the sides meet again in Manchester on level terms.
PlayStation® Player of the Match: Riyad Mahrez (Man City)
"He took his goal ever so well, was always a threat with his dribbling and close control and was always available between the lines."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Steffen Potter, Leipzig reporter
The way Leipzig managed to turn things around after the break should give them a big boost. Not many teams manage to put City on the back foot, as Leipzig did after the interval. The introduction of Henrichs proved to be a key aspect of that, but it was mainly the team making braver decisions and positioning themselves much better than in the first period. They travel to Manchester with all still to play for.
Matthew Howarth, Man City reporter
The second half was as uncomfortable for City as the first had been routine. Ederson was a spectator before the interval, but Leipzig's pressure after half-time was such that an equaliser seemed inevitable. Guardiola will be disappointed at his team's inability to defend their narrow lead but it could have been a lot worse for the Premier League champions, who will be confident of securing a last-eight spot on home soil.
Marco Rose, Leipzig coach: "Two very, very different halves. It just didn't happen in the first half; we just chased the ball and we were very bad when we had it. The second was quite different: we were better with the ball, won it back better and played how we had wanted to play."
Benjamin Henrichs, Leipzig defender: "In the first half, we were lucky with the scoreline. We were braver after the break. It's extremely bitter that I missed my chance. Those are the situations you take home with you; it will be a sleepless night for me as I should have scored or at least managed to square it."
Sandro Wagner, DAZN
"Leipzig were very brave after the break, an entirely different game when on the ball. Bringing on Henrichs was a good move, which allowed Szoboszlai to play more centrally."
Pep Guardiola, Man City manager, speaking to BT Sport: "I'm happy about the whole game, not just the first half. It's a competition in which many important teams are out. If people expect us to come here and win 4-0, I'm sorry. We're not able to do this."
İlkay Gündoğan, Man City midfielder: "We knew Leipzig would come back improved after the break. Surely they couldn’t be pleased with the first half. We knew they would try to apply more pressure, but then we lost the ball too quickly when we were in transition and conceded a bitter goal."
- Riyad Mahrez has now scored in all three meetings between these sides.
- Manchester City have drawn their last three Champions League away matches.
- City failed to win the opening leg of a UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie for the first time in eight seasons.
- Leipzig are unbeaten in all four matches against English sides at the RB Arena in this competition (W3).
- Leipzig have lost just one of their last 21 matches (W15 D5).
Fantasy star performers
Riyad Mahrez – 10
Joško Gvardiol – 9
Marcel Halstenberg – 5
Leipzig: Blaswich; Klostermann (Henrichs 46), Orbán, Gvardiol, Halstenberg (Raum 89); Laimer, Schlager (Haidara 82); Szoboszlai, Forsberg (Nkunku 66), Werner; André Silva (Poulsen 82)
Man City: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Rúben Dias, Aké; Rodri, Gündoğan; Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Grealish; Haaland
The second leg takes place at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester on 14 March (21:00 CET).