RB Leipzig vs Man City‘s match started with full attacking forces.
Though it looked briefly like Manchester City might go a third game in a row without a win, two brilliant goals from the bench was reward for a dominant performance, and enough to take them top of Group G.
Just as they did against Wolves on Saturday, Manchester City dominated first half possession and had more than the lion’s share of chances. Unlike at the weekend, however, they were able to make one of them count, thanks largely to Rico Lewis’s creative playmaking coming in from the right.
In the 25th minute, who started the move in his own half, received it again, zipped through the Leipzig defenders and arrived at the byline still in possession. There he cut the ball back to Phil Foden who timed his run from the left to perfection. Foden swung his shot hard into the ground, where it flew into the net past the outstretched left hand of Leipzig keeper, Janis Blaswich.
There was the sense City’s inability to get more might cost them and it was looking that way when the home side equalised early in the second half. It came on the counter attack, as Jack Grealish gave the ball away while Lois Openda ran clear into space, stayed strong under pressure and put the pull away well beneath City’s keeper Edersen.
Though that gave the home side and their fans confidence, in the send a series of substitutions secured the three points for City – though they had to wait for the breakthrough.
After continuing to press, and Haaland found himself frustrated repeatedly, it was a brilliant move from Julian Alvarez that made the difference. Jeremy Doku, who had replaced Manuel Akanji, held the ball up on the left of the box, and tapped the ball to his fellow substitute, Julian Alvarez. With the gentlest of backlifts, the Spaniard curled the ball into the goal and there was nothing Blaswich could do.
It was Leipzig’s refusal to give up on the game that cost them another. Attacking with men forward Doku himself was left running into acres of space when he received the ball from Alvarez. He tapped it comfortably under the body of the Leipzig goalkeeper, to secure all three points for the away team, and take them top of Group G.
Persistence pays off Pep Guardiola had the confidence to stick with the tactical formula which, apart from a bit of a lack of goals, was paying off in terms of possession and chances in the first half. In the second, it was simply a change of personnel that made all the difference, in particular the insertion of Julian Alvarez into the game. That moment of magic from Alvarez gave City the goal they seemed to feel they deserved, and opened the game up for its final moments.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – PHIL FODEN
Despite the brilliance of Alvarez, there were plenty of great performances on display from Manchester City this evening. One man, however, kept his cool, remained steady, made chances and tried a few of his own. Foden was involved in everything that City did creatively, covering more of the pitch than anyone. He made not have been able to contribute to the manner of the victory, but he helped wear their opponents’ down and made them vulnerable to the brilliance of the moves that won the game. From 46 Champions League appearances, Foden has 11 goals and 9 assists, and is on his way to talisman territory.
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