RB Leipzig faced an almost impossible task in three weeks at Liverpool FC in the second leg for the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Two individual mistakes made the decisive contribution to the 2-0 defeat of the Bundesliga club in the so-called home game in Budapest. Salah (53rd minute) and Mané (58th) gratefully and resolutely accepted the two gifts within five minutes.
As the semi-finalists in the Champions League of the previous season, the Leipzigers had created a few chances over ninety minutes, but in the end they beat themselves mainly through their own mistakes. Except for these two goals, there was nothing more to see from Liverpool on the offensive than from Leipzig. Coach Nagelsmann’s team tried hard to improve the result in the last half hour, but even in the end, RB was lacking precision and sovereignty again and again that evening. In the third and last minute of stoppage time, the substitute Hwang just missed the goal.
Duel between Nagelsmann and Klopp
The duel between Leipzig and Liverpool was also a duel on the sidelines between two of the best German coaches, Nagelsmann and Klopp. The 33-year-old Leipzig coach seemed to have at least the advantage over the twenty-year-old two-time world coach, in a strong phase of his team, to meet the only sixth in the Premier League. “We have the team on the pitch that we want on the pitch. You have to watch our games, not our results, ”said Klopp confidently, despite well-known injury concerns and currently three defeats in the English league. But in the end this German-German coaching duel was not decided by sophisticated systems, but by simple mistakes.
An expression of Liverpool’s defense concerns that evening was also the starting line-up of 20-year-old central defender Ozan Kabak, which the English champions had borrowed from Bundesliga last Schalke 04 this month. And Leipzig uncovered Liverpool’s defensive problems for the first time after five minutes. After a cross from Angelino, Dani Olmo was able to take a diving header in the six-yard area, but it only landed on the inside post. However, it did not take long before Liverpool at least hinted at their extra class, which was still there on the offensive. In the initial phase, a fast-paced, intense and varied game developed in which Liverpool also had their first chances of taking the lead after a quarter of an hour. First, RB goalkeeper Gulacsi defended against Salah bravely, then Firmino only hit the side netting.
In the course of the game, Liverpool gained a little control over the game, with greater possession of the ball and the more mature playing system, which also took away some speed from the Leipzig game. After half an hour, Liverpool scored their first goal after a build-up error by Upamecano with a header from Firmino, but the goal did not count because the ball was said to have been out of bounds on Mané’s cross. A dubious decision.
In the first minute after the break, Leipzig succeeded in one of the previously rare quick attacks in the depths, but Alisson blocked the shot of the cleared Nkunku to a corner. It was a largely even game at the time. The lead for Liverpool only a little later, in the 53rd minute, fell out of nowhere – after a repeated weakness in the Leipzig play structure. This time Sabitzer brought Salah into a perfect position with an unfocused and imprecise cross pass that Klostermann was supposed to achieve, which the Liverpool darling could not miss. Gulacsi had no chance against his conclusion, 1-0 for Liverpool.
Only five minutes later Leipzig had finally beaten itself. With a high ball from the Liverpool half Mukiele misjudged himself and slipped in his attempt to defend – and landed on the pants. Mané ran almost alone from the center line to the goal and used his chance to make it 2-0. After this double setback, Leipzig did not give up. But the team also lacked punch that evening.