A stunning first-half display of counter-attacking football saw RB Leipzig keep up their UEFA Champions League hopes, but last season’s semi-finalists AS Monaco have been knocked out of European competition.
It started early with Jemerson turning in Marcel Sabitzer’s cross, before Timo Werner scored twice, once from open play and once from the spot.
Radamel Falcao pulled one back for Monaco but moments later Naby Keïta scored what would be the final goal of the match, leaving themselves and FC Porto to compete for second place in Group G; Monaco will finish bottom.
Leipzig take flight in first ten minutes
Following the 1-1 draw between Besiktas JK and Porto in the earlier game, last year’s semi-finalists Monaco had to win this game to have any hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds, whilst realistically Leipzig needed a win too. Leonardo Jardim recalled João Moutinho for the French champions, whilst Lukas Klostermann, Dayot Upamecano and Yussuf Poulsen returned for the visitors, from their respective league matches at the weekend.
Monaco started the brighter but Leipzig went ahead with their first attack. On the break, Kevin Kampl passed to Sabitzer, who eyed up Poulsen in the box. His cross though was in fact turned in to his own net by the hapless Jemerson.
It got worse for the hosts soon after. Jemerson was again to blame, giving the ball away to Kampl. Managing to evade the attention of Fabinho, he fed through Werner who inevitably did the rest, firing past Danijel Subašić.
The hosts fought back in what was a very open game. A poor clearance from Willi Orban allowed Falcao to tee up Keita Baldé but his shot was kept out by Peter Gulácsi. He was then denied a possible penalty after a challenge in the box from Upamecano, before Falaco had an effort saved at close range by Gulácsi.
Visitors pull away despite Falcao header
Poulsen would then come close to making it three for Leipzig, denied by a challenge from Jorge. However from the resulting corner, Orban was fouled awkwardly by Falcao as he looked to get the shot away, with Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco pointing to the spot. Werner bagged his second, and his team’s third, by slamming it high into the net.
Monaco remained spirited but Leipzig could have had yet another when Sabitzer almost pulled the trigger before going down under a challenge, with Emil Forsberg putting the loose ball wide. Unfortunately for Sabitzer, he managed to dislocate his shoulder going down and had to be stretchered off.
As half-time closed in, Monaco thought they had a route back into the game. Rony Lopes’s free-kick from the left was met by the head of Falcao, who was able to get the touch before Gulácsi, coming out of his goal, could get there. That was one of four goals they needed to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
That was until Leipzig got a fourth themselves barely more than a minute after. Keïta got in on the scoring act this, brilliantly turning around Kamil Gilk and leaving Fabinho helpless, before placing past Subašić to presumably put the game back to bed before the break.
No second half comeback for Monaco
Leipzig were unable to break down Monaco quite so willingly in the second half, and it quickly became apparent that they were happy with the advantage, with Werner taken off just over ten minutes after the resumption.
Few would have betted against the Monaco of last season throwing all caution to the wind, but this season’s variant were picking at scraps in their attempts to get back in the game. Keita Baldé could only strike over after confusion in the Leipzig box, before his flick from a free-kick couldn’t be turned in at the far post by Andrea Raggi.
As the half wore on, Falcao had an appeal for a penalty denied, before a free-kick in a good position was put over the bar by Moutinho. Leipzig had even fewer sights of goal, whilst Poulsen appeared willing to get involved in every battle going. He was eventually booked for flying on top of Fabinho, before a foul on Jorge left him requiring treatment and clearly struggling even after then.
Nonetheless, they saw out the second half without any further trouble to earn what was their first ever win away from home in Europe, leaving them level on points of Porto ahead of their final group game against group winners Besiktas. Monaco though, after reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season, won’t even have the consolation of UEFA Europa League football after Christmas as bottom spot is confirmed.