Three things learned: RB Leipzig - Liverpool
RB Leipzig - Liverpool: Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah took advantage of gifts from RB Leipzig as Liverpool produced a 2-0 win in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie, played in Budapest on Tuesday.
Leipzig out-attempted the visitors 12-10 but missed a number of big chances and Liverpool made the most of theirs to head back to Anfield with two away goals.
The second leg is March 10 on Merseyside.
USMNT back Tyler Adams went 90 minutes on as a sort of hybrid right wing back/right midfielder, cutting inside plenty and playing two key passes in a performance that was far from terrible but won’t be remembered due to big mistakes from teammates Marcel Sabitzer and Nordi Mukiele.
Three things we learned from RB Leipzig - Liverpool
1. Firmino denied opener by millimeters: Remember the fine margin on Kyle Walker’s famous goal line clearance for Man City against Liverpool a couple of years ago? This one was closer. Sadio Mane whiffed on a volley attempt after his initial shot was blocked and came within a hair of an assist when his desperation pass from the end line was thudded home by the head of Roberto Firmino. Somehow, the assistant referee had his flag raised from across the field but VAR proved the eagle-eyed AR correct by the slimmest sliver of green.
2. Leipzig blinks first and second: The Premier League champions haven’t been at their best, but they hardly need handouts. While Liverpool was denied the opener by an eyelash, it was Leipzig who lost sight of the gamne during a solid start to the second half. Full credit to Salah for following a back pass in case Leipzig mishit it, which they did, and the Egyptian rarely misses beautiful opportunities to score when given a clear look at goal. Mane was then 1v1 with Gulacsi when Nordi Mukiele mangled a long ball. He scored because, well, Sadio Mane. Julian Nagelsmann will hate the unforced errors just as much as he hated not playing at home in the home leg.
3. The match to change Liverpool’s season? Liverpool needed this, and will be enlivened by success in its favorite competition. Yes, RB Leipzig is more than capable of springing a 2-0 or better win at an empty Anfield and if we’re honest, Julian Nagelsmann’s attack-first formation would’ve been enough to leave with at-worst 0-0 if his defensive players didn’t let him down with awful mistakes. That’s a risk he took when deploying a sort of 3-2-3-2 against the Reds, but it’s also something Jurgen Klopp will relish even if the match film merely shows the opening of gifts.
Man of the Match: Ozan Kabak
It could be any number of players including Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Curtis Jones, but how about a word for the new center back Ozan Kabak. He’s known for being a physical force and the Turkish defender won 6-of-7 ground duels, and produced four tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances. Clearly his familiarity with the Bundesliga opposition helped in Hungary.
RB Leipzig - Liverpool recap
Leipzig threatened early with an Angelino cross that Dani Olmo headed off the woodwork to send a warning sign to Alisson Becker and crew.
Andy Robertson nearly caught Peter Gulacsi off his line in the 32nd minute, sending the keeper into the post and for medical treatment with a spun shot from well outside the 18.
Sadio Mane might’ve cued up the opener in the 35th minute when he mishandled a first touch and rushed to salvage the ball from the end line, finding Roberto Firmino for 1-0. But the linesman’s flag was raised and it seems the ball was just out (or in) in what will surely be a post-match talking point from one Jurgen Klopp.
Salah and Mane feasted off Leipzig errors to make it 2-0 in the second half, and Liverpool had multiple big blocks after the hour mark to keep the advantage at two.
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