Europe: Champions League
⚽ C. Nkunku (10), ⚽ A. Silva (50), ⚽ D. Szoboszlai (62)
RB Leipzig came into tonight’s clash hoping to make it their third qualification for the Champions League knockout stages in four seasons. Sat in second place, three points clear of opponents Shakhtar Donetsk, Marco Rose and Co. knew a result of any kind would cement RB’s place in the last 16. Donetsk had a strong case for optimism despite not boasting the best record against German opposition historically. Having beaten Leipzig in September, another victory would level the sides on nine points, allowing the Ukrainians to progress through UEFA’s head-to-head rule. Truly all to play for in both camps.
|Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Both sides made a timid start to the game given what was at stake. The night’s first chance fell to Werner who forced a save from Trubin on 8 minutes. However, the young Ukrainian goalkeeper was left to pick the ball out of his net two minutes later. Once again Werner drew the best out of Trubin who was unfortunate to see his save rebound into Nkunku’s path. The Frenchman did the rest, slotting the ball home from short range. It was a dream start for Marco Rose, aside from Timo Werner’s early withdrawal through injury.
Werner’s replacement, Emil Forsberg, took on an ambitious strike from distance just before the 30th minute. The effort well held by Shakhtar’s 21-year-old shot stopper. While the lively Mykhailo Mudryk threatened on occasion popping up on either flank for the hosts, Leipzig were never really made sweat. The score remained 0-1 to Die Roten Bullen as the teams entered the dressing rooms.
Shakhtar made a bright start to the restart but found themselves two goals in arrears five minutes into the half. Mohammed Simakan looped his header back across goal. Andre Silva arrived late to poke the ball between the left upright and Trubin who ought to have done better. An unusual goal which was greeted by silence in the ground as fans failed to make head or tail of how RB’s striker scored. Leipzig put an end to the contest just after the hour mark as Szoboszlai made it 0-3. Nkunku this time the provider as he fed the Hungarian who rounded Trubin and finished in routine fashion.
A three-goal lead quickly became four on 68 minutes. The ideal return for substitute Dani Olmo ahead of the World Cup as his strike resulted in the own goal. After working a nice set piece with Kampl, the Spaniard curled home from an acute angle aided by a slight deflection off Bondar. Mudryk almost picked out the top right corner on 74 minutes before parting from the action. Aside from that, the Leipzig cavalry arrived off the bench and carried the club from Saxony to the Champions League knockout stages. The fourth German side to do so this season in what has been a successful season for Bundesliga clubs thus far.