RB Leipzig 1-1 Manchester City: Gvardiol punishes City drop-off as dominance again fails to pay


Manchester City failed to make their early dominance pay as RB Leipzig fought for a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Josko Gvardiol rose highest to head home a second-half corner and cancel out Riyad Mahrez’s opener to cap a fine turnaround for a Leipzig side that looked lost for much of Wednesday’s game in Germany.

There was more than a hint of irony about City’s opening goal, which came after 25 minutes of almost-total dominance at Red Bull Arena.

Finally handed a moment of possession in their own half, the hosts gave the ball away to Jack Grealish and Ilkay Gundogan’s faint flick sent Mahrez through to bury his effort.

City dominated the entirety of the first half, which if anything was too comfortable as they failed to create much by the way of clear-cut chances with Erling Haaland particularly unused.

Inevitably, Leipzig came out with greater intent in the second half but still City were comfortable as Mahrez saw a close-range shot blocked after Nathan Ake won the ball high up the pitch.

Marco Rose’s half-time introduction of Benjamin Henrichs proved key as it provided the hosts with much-needed width and a runner from deep, the right-back firing a great chance wide on 54 minutes before Ederson smartly denied Andre Silva’s chip.

The Bundesliga side continued to grow into the game - bar Haaland shooting wide on the break - and Ederson was again called into action, leaping to parry Dominik Szoboszlai’s powerful effort from range.

Yet, City conceded from the corner as Gvardiol beat Ruben Dias in the air to power a header home on 69 minutes. It was no less than either side deserved, Pep Guardiola having changed nothing about his team as the course of the game turned against his side.

Indeed, the away side did not make any substitutions as Leipzig were enlivened by Henrichs and returning star forward Christopher Nkunku.

Janis Blaswich did well to save from Gundogan as City kicked back into gear after the goal, a late penalty appeal for handball also being turned down. But both teams got the result they ultimately deserved ahead of reconvening in Manchester next month.