BERLIN (Dispatches) - Leipzig sealed the third place in Group A and booked its berth for the Europa League after goals from Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva helped the “Red Bulls” to edge Manchester City 2-1 in the final round of the Champions League’s group stage on Tuesday.
Both sides staged well-positioned defenses from the kick-off hence goal scoring opportunities were at premium in the opening period.
Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer and City’s Kevin De Bruyne produced the first half-chances before Jack Grealish pulled wide from promising position to waste a good chance for the visitors in the 22nd minute.
The hosts showed a clinical chance conversion at the other end of the green, as Laimer’s perfectly timed through ball was sent to Szoboszlai, who rounded goalkeeper Zackary Steffen before finishing the job into the empty goal with 24 minutes played.
Leipzig almost doubled its advantage two minutes later, but Steffen was on guard and defused Emil Forsberg’s dangerous effort from 12 meters.
The hosts continued on the front foot and should have extended the lead, but Steffen was equal to Silva’s header in the 39th minute.
Manchester City sparked to life before the half time as Peter Gulacsi had to tip Phil Foden’s hammer to the post before the Leipzig goalkeeper neutralized De Bruyne’s free kick in the closing stages of the first half.
After the restart, City assumed control and dominated possession but for all that the visitors couldn’t do damage to Leipzig’s bulwark.
To make things worse for the visitors, passive Leipzig doubled its advantage against the flow of the game as Silva benefitted on a counterattack via Forsberg to beat Steffen with a well-placed low shot in the 71st minute.
It was a short-lived joy for the hosts though as the “Sky Blues” halved the deficit after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross fed Riyad Mahrez, whose diving header caught Gulacsi on the wrong foot in the 77th minute.
City’s comeback hopes suffered a heavy setback in the 83rd minute when Kyle Walker was sent off with a straight red card following a rude foul play on Silva.
The visitors pushed forward despite their numerical disadvantage, but Leipzig’s defence stood firm and secured all three points on home soil.
With the result, Manchester City top Group A with 12 points whereas Leipzig finish on the 3rd spot to continue in the Europa League.