RB Leipzig’s first UEFA Champions League campaign ended in a thrilling 2-1 defeat to Group G winners Beşiktaş.
Álvaro Negredo put the Turkish side ahead from the penalty spot but they had to survive a barrage of pressure through from Leipzig, with a Timo Werner goal controversially, but correctly, disallowed for offside after a delayed decision.
Leipzig, reduced to ten men when Stefan Ilsanker saw a second yellow card, finally equalised through Naby Keïta but the joy was short-lived as Talisca won the game for the visitors. A win for FC Porto in the group’s other game made any result here academic though.
Negredo puts Beşiktaş ahead as Werner goal belatedly disallowed
The situation for Leipzig was clear. To qualify for the knockout stages they had to hope that they could better the result of FC Porto, with whom they were challenging for second place, against AS Monaco. They were level on points coming into these games, with Porto having the better head-to-head record from their two meetings. They made four changes from their weekend loss to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, with Dayot Upamecano and Emil Forsberg out injured, whilst Beşiktaş, assured of top spot in the group, changed nine from the derby victory over Galatasaray.
The match took little time to get going, with early chances at either end for Negredo and Jean-Kévin Augustin. Things would start going wrong for the hosts though, as Willi Orban managed to foul Jeremain Lens in the box to concede a penalty. Negredo waited for Peter Gulácsi to make his move before trickling the ball past him. Not only that, but news would soon coming in that Porto were leading Monaco thanks to Vincent Aboubakar.
Leipzig responded, with Orban almost making amends for the penalty by hitting the post. He then set up Werner to put the ball in the net to seemingly bring them level. He looked in an offside position – and indeed he was – but the linesman’s flag didn’t come, and he kept checking as he made his way back past the halfway line. As a team though the Hungarian officials eventually disallowed the goal, the only question seemingly being whether there had been a touch on the way through from Matej Mitrović.
There could rarely have been more noise made in the Red Bull Arena as the home supporters got on the backs of the referee. Augustin looked through on goal before a barge from Mitrović allowed the ball to run to Tolga Zengin. Keïta then thought he had been fouled in the box, only to be penalised for a handball as he lost his balance. Meanwhile Aboubakar had scored again for Porto.
In fact it would be three in Portugal by the time Leipzig got back to the dressing room at half-time. They were lucky not to go two when Negredo squared to Lens when it might have been easier to shoot, with Gulácsi saving his shot, whilst the Dutchman’s final ball let him down after waltzing through the Leipzig half. In a sign of things to come, Zengin made two important saves though, from Werner and Bruma.
Zengin eventually beaten after heroic effort only for Talisca to settle game
Their hopes of reaching the Champions League last-16 in their first European campaign were gone, but that didn’t stop Leipzig trying to get back into this game, and then some. Within 30 seconds of the restart, Augustin had put an effort wide after coming in from the left, before Werner did likewise only to be denied by Zengin, with Keïta then putting the ball wide.
Veteran goalkeeper Zengin is usually back-up to Fabri but he was putting in a one-man show to keep Leipzig at bay here. He denied Werner again after the striker combined with Keïta, who then also ahead an effort saved by him after a cross from Kevin Kampl. Kampl, Keïta again and then Augustin again saw further efforts kept out by the Turkish keeper.
Eventually, after good build-up play, Augustin did beat Zengin with a clever finish, touching the ball down before scoring. The only trouble this time was he did so from an offside position and another goal was rightly chalked off. A corner soon after was then headed over by Ilsanker. In Portugal, Porto were now 4-1 up.
Lens had an effort saved by Gulácsi but otherwise it was business as usual for Zengin, denying Bruma, who also put an effort wide a couple of minutes earlier. The game appeared to change though as Ilsanker saw a second yellow for a foul on substitute Cenk Tosun, with Beşiktaş looking to put the game to bed, however Orkan Çinar, Lens and Tosun all missed out.
Leipzig though at long last got the equaliser with just over three minutes, as the Beşiktaş defence parted to allow Keïta through to score. That wouldn’t be the final act of the game though, as from a corner Cinar eventually crossed the ball into the Leipzig box for Talisca to place it into the roof of the net. With Porto winning 5-2, it was academic anyway, as Leipzig drop into the UEFA Europa League.