RB Leipzig are into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League following a tense 1-1 draw with Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, the visitors put one foot in the last-eight thanks to Jean-Kévin Augustin, however Sebastián Driussi levelled on the night just before the break.
Timo Werner had a penalty saved late on to prevent Leipzig making certain of the tie, but Zenit in the end did not have enough to stop their progression.
Augustin extends aggregate lead before late Driussi strike
Leipzig had won the first leg at home 2-1, with second half goals from Bruma and Timo Werner, although Domenico Criscito’s snatched an away goal late on. The hosts made four changes from that game, with Igor Smolnikov, Leandro Paredes, Yuri Zhirkov and Driussi brought in by Roberto Mancini. Bernardo, who had played in the goalless draw against VfB Stuttgart, was the only man brought in to the Leipzig team from the first leg. Konrad Laimer made way.
The hosts suffered a big blow early on, as frontman Aleksandr Kokorin was forced off with injury with just five minutes gone. Regardless of whether that ruined any plans Mancini may have had, Zenit were more than happy to let Leipzig take the initiative.
There weren’t any chances for either side to score though before Augstin gave Leipzig the lead on the night. Werner did the hard work, cutting in from the left before placing the ball into the box to Augustin, who timed his run well. Turning with it, he struck in past Andrey Lunev to take out Zenit’s away-goal advantage, and extend his side’s lead on aggregate to two goals.
The hosts did recover though after that. Paredes gave Leipzig a fright with a free-kick which hit he into the bar, before Zhirkov set up Anton Zabolotny, Kokorin’s replacement, who got his foot around the cross to force Peter Gulácsi to make a save. The Leipzig goalkeeper was also called into action by Emiliano Rigoni, putting his shot over the bar.
In the first of two added minutes, the Russians gave themselves hope of getting something from the tie. Criscito received a diagonal ball on the right, and he found Driussi on the far post, who got ahead of Bernardo and volleyed the ball in.
Werner missed penalty doesn’t come back to haunt Leipzig
Zenit had a couple of decent chances to draw level in the tie early in the second half, with Criscito going over and a Rigoni shot saved by Gulácsi, but otherwise they were still struggling to force the issue. For the visitors, Emil Forsberg had an effort blocked by Smolnikov before setting up a Werner effort. His shot was saved by Lunev, and he had been otherwise anyway.
Leipzig, who were slowly being put under increasing pressure from Zenit, then had a lucky escape, as Zabolotny had the ball in the net. Criscito had played the ball through to him, however the striker had been standing in an offside position, looking straight to the assistant referee to indeed see his flag had been raised.
They still needed one to level the tie, but a Leipzig goal would have Zenit needing three. And a tackle from Miha Mevlja on Werner in the box, after he was found by Naby Keïta, gave them the chance to do just that. However after a slight delay caused by Branislav Ivanović arguing with the referee, Werner’s penalty was poor and was saved by Lunev.
Zenit’s best chance after that reprieve came soon after, when Paredes’s free-kick was glanced wide by the head of Criscito. Mancini seemed to react to the situation too late, with attacking reinforcements in the form of Dmitri Poloz and Aleksandr Erokhin both coming in the final minutes of the 90. Poloz did put a header over in stoppage time, but Leipzig’s defence threw themselves at anything else the Russian side had to offer.
A chance to win the second leg on the counter came to Leipzig in the final moments, as Werner teed up Bruma for a shot, which was blocked by Lunev. But that was the final action as Leipzig booked their place in the Europa League last-eight in just the first season in Europe, knocking out the 2008 winners in the process.