Thanks to a dream goal by marcel sabitzer, RB leipzig has stopped its crisis in results and can now once again be the K.O.-round of champions league dreams.
After four winless compulsory games, julian nagelsmann’s team turned around a setback against the russian champions zenit st. Petersburg and won on wednesday night with 2:1 (0:1). 41 years ago.058 spectators in the red-bull-arena brought the ukrainians jaroslaw rakyzkyj the guests in the 25. Minute in the lead. Konrad laimer equalized (49.), before sabitzer (59.) with a goal worth seeing into the angle marked the 2:1. In the group G table, leipzig pulled ahead st. Petersburg over.
"It was a tough game again today when you’re chasing a goal for so long," said winning goalkeeper sabitzer on the steaming service DAZN. "We threw everything forward – and thank god we were still rewarded," said the 25-year-old austrian, commenting on the 2:1 only: "when it flies in like that, it’s naturally already."
The first surprise came even before kickoff: nagelsmann gave ademola lookman preference in attack alongside national striker timo werner. Lookman made his starting eleven debut this season. In total, the RB coach made four changes compared to the 1-1 draw against vfl wolfsburg: kevin kampl, nordi mukiele and emil forsberg made the starting eleven.
Bundesliga fifth-placed leipzig immediately took the initiative. After only 54 seconds, zenit keeper mikhail kershakov deflected a shot by laimer from 22 yards to the crossbar. The 1:0 also missed sabitzer (14.) very close with a volley from a half-right position after a direct pass from mukiele.
Leipzig made the play, zenit defended with all its might. Then it caught RB ice-cold: after a header by willi orban directly into the center, defender rakyzkyj pulled off a volley from 22 meters – keeper peter gulacsi could not hold the precise ball.
The saxons quickly got back on their feet, and nagelsmann spurred his team on: "keep going, keep going!" He shouted from the sidelines. Werner was served by sabitzer in the penalty area, but drove the ball wide of the goal (40.). Overall, the hosts allowed themselves too many inaccuracies before the break, the error rate in the passing game was too high. And at the penalty line, the people of leipzig were often at their wit’s end. Instead of playing steeply into the deep, forsberg and co. Too often crosswise.
This is how nagelsmann was forced to make the change. For the hapless werner, matheus cunha came into play after the restart. Immediately he brought the game to a head with a drop-goal from close range (49.) goal threat. The equalizer came almost in the next attack through laimer, who finished after a double pass with sabitzer. Sabitzer’s dream goal – from 15 meters, the ball hit the corner of the goal – was the reward for the remarkable increase of the hosts after the break. Brazilian matheus cunha, who came on as a substitute for werner, missed two excellent chances in the closing stages – a 3:1 win would not have been undeserved.
It was already the third duel between the two teams – and the second victory for leipzig. In the eighth finals of the european league, RB had a 8. March 2018 2-1 win over zenit; 1-1 draw in petersburg then made it perfect for the saxons to reach the quarterfinals. This time the match will be played on 5. November in the city on the neva river.