Manuel Veth –
RB Leipzig vs Zenit was dominated by the German side, but with Domenico Criscito scoring a late freekick goal there is still everything to be played for when the second leg kicks off in Russia next Thursday.
- Timo Werner wins man of the match.
- Leipzig dominant.
- Zenit stay alive thanks to a late Domenico Criscito goal.
RB Leipzig vs Zenit
Goals: 1-0 (Bruma, 56′), 2-0 (Timo Werner, 77′), 2-1 (Domenico Criscito, 86′)
It was an intriguing start to proceedings in the east of Germany with Leipzig controlling much of the possession and Zenit sitting deep trying to hit die Roten Bullen on the counter. Neither side, however, were able to break the deadlock, to begin with, most of the game took place around the centre-circle. This was mostly due to Zenit’s very patient play with Zenit head coach Roberto Mancini employing a very patient approach to the game.
It, therefore, took to the 25th minute for the first chance to fall for either side. Attacking forward Bruma found Timo Werner, who made an excellent attacking run inside the box – the German forward put his shot over the box, however. Leipzig cracked up the pressure, but to often tried to force their way through the crowded centre of the park where Zenit’s defence had an easy time picking apart attacking plays.
With Zenit crowding Leipzig out die Roten Bullen had to resort to other methods to find an opener. In the 35th minute, Emil Forsberg almost scored from a standard situation, his freekick from 35-yards out hit the inside of the woodwork and stayed outside the goal, however. Leipzig’s second chance also came after a standard with Forsberg passing the ball low into the box in the 43rd minute, where the ball found Diego Demme, who in turn laid the ball off to Werner, his shot missed the target though. It was the final chance of a half that was dominated by die Roten Bullen.
Leipzig continued to pressure Zenit in the second half with both Forsberg (46′), Jean-Kevin Augustin (51′) and Timo Werner (54′) all testing Zenit keeper Andrey Lunev from a tight corner. At that point, it was only a question of time for Leipzig to score the opening goal, which finally arrived in the 56th minute. Werner supplied a fantastic backheel pass to Bruma, who broke into the box where he beat Lunev with a fantastic finish.
Just two minutes later, Werner should have doubled the lead after he went one-on-one with Lunev, but his finish was too soft and right on Lunev. Both the goal and Werner’s missed chance seemed to have woken up the Russians as for four minutes pressed die Roten Bullen inside their penalty box without finding the equaliser, however.
Instead, RB Leipzig would score the second goal after Naby Keïta, and Werner combined to score a wonder goal. Keïta danced through Zenit’s midfield and then played a perfect pass to Werner, who with a velvet touch lopped the ball over Lunev to make it 2-0 for Leipzig in the 77th minute. Zenit where then given a lifeline in the 86th minute with Domenico Criscito scoring a fantastic freekick goal after Dayot Upamecano gave away a needless foul just outside the box.
On balance the result flattered Zenit and Leipzig attempted to score a third goal to have a bigger advantage when the match moves to Russia next Thursday. But it was not meant to be as Mancini’s side shut Leipzig out and is now carryig a massive away goal the Krestovsky Stadium.
RB Leipzig vs Zenit – Man of the Match: Timo Werner #11
Timo Werner assisted Bruma’s goal and scored a fantastic goal himself to earn the player of the game award. Continuously, threatening Zenit’s backline Werner highlighted why he is expected to lead the line for Germany at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer.
RB Leipzig vs Zenit – Talking Point
Roberto Mancini set up his side with a defensive first approach. With the league title slipping away and the club already out of the Russian Cup, the Europa League has become a priority for Zenit. But Zenit were too inactive to truly challenge Leipzig and it is only thanks to a fantastic freekick by Criscito that Zenit have a fighting chance in this tie.
RB Leipzig vs Zenit – Match Stats
- In 34 competitive games during the 2017-18 season, Timo Werner was involved in 21 goals (17 goals, four Assists).
- Zenit have now lost their last two matches on German soil.
- Leipzig have won only two of their five European home games (D1 L2) and are yet to keep a clean sheet, conceding eight goals including three in each of the last four.
RB Leipzig vs Zenit – Line-ups
Gulacsi -Laimer (Bernardo, 46′), Orban, Upamecano, Klostermann – Demme, Keïta – Forsberg, Bruma (Sabitzer, 74′) – Augustin (Poulson, 79′), Werner
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Lunev – Criscito, Mevlja, Mammana, Ivanović – Kranevitter, Kuzyaev, Erokhin – Kokorin, Zabolotnyi (Driussi, 58′), Rigoni (Poloz, 79′)
Coach: Roberto Mancini
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth. Or contact him via email: [email protected]