Leipzig (AP) – Julian Nagelsmann roared his joy into the evening sky, grabbing each of his players for a hug. With super-fast football and ultimately thanks to goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, RB Leipzig reached the eighth finals of the Champions League.
The Saxons won 3-2 (2-0) against Manchester United and passed the English record champion in Group H, who was top class with Paris Saint-Germain.
“The final phase was very intense, but we played a good game over long stretches”, said Nagelsmann. ‘It doesn’t matter, we’re done. The boys fought. ‘ The Spaniard Angeliño, who took the lead in the second minute, told Sky: “That was tough, but it feels so good. We made it difficult for ourselves, but at the end of the day we held our ground, we are strong. Sports director Markus Krösche said: “I think we have made it more exciting than necessary.”
After Angeliño, Amadou Haidara (13th) and Justin Kluivert (69th) met for the Nagelsmann team – in the first leg at the end of October, Leipzig had conceded a bitter 0: 5. Bruno Fernandes (80th / foul penalty) and Paul Pogba (82nd) again caused tension. Gulacsi held out.
Three days after the best Bundesliga match in Bayern (3: 3), Leipzig got off to a fast start. Angeliño took a long ball from the right with his left hand and hit the lead with force after 109 seconds. Nagelsmann clenched both hands into fists on the sidelines full of energy. After reaching the semi-finals last season, “his team tasted blood,” the coach said shortly before kick-off at Sky. “We’d like to do that again.”
With high speed and tactically well adjusted, the team from Leipzig put the English record champion under pressure. In the defense, in which defender Dayot Upamecano missed a yellow card, Nagelsmann formed a chain of three men, which allowed the winger Nordi Mukiele and especially Angeliño to play extremely offensive. Haidara scored 2-0 after a strong pass from the Spaniard. Willi Orban’s alleged 3-0 didn’t count, the 28-year-old was offside (29th).
The guests were surprised by the speed of the Bundesliga club. United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had warned that the first leg victory “meant nothing”. The Nagelsmann team was “unpredictable,” said the Norwegian. Mason Greenwood checked RB goalkeeper Gulacsi (9th) – there wasn’t much left from the table sixth in the Premier League in the first half hour. And United were very lucky that Emil Forsberg did not take advantage of his enormous opportunity in the penalty area (17th).
United’s playmaker Fernandes, who was so strong in the national league, failed to develop for an hour. In the 66th minute, Gulacsi, who was then increasingly challenged, had to intervene with a shot from the Portuguese, shortly afterwards Fernandes hit the bar with a free kick (68th). Marcus Rashford, three-time goalscorer in the first leg, was initially taken out of the game by the RB defense.
A first phase of weakness in Leipzig with too much loss of possession at the end of the first half has not yet been penalized. Solskjaer reacted during the break and brought in attacking player Donny van de Beek – and the guests got a bit stronger. Leipzig was pushed to its own penalty area at the start of the second half.
Nagelsmann looked anything but satisfied and switched twice after just under an hour. Yussuf Poulsen occupied the storm center. In addition, Kluivert, who, after scoring his first goal for RB at Bayern, promoted the ball to the supposedly reassuring 3-0. Ibrahima Konaté took care of the dubious penalty kick with a foul on Greenwod. Pogba’s goal made RB tremble.