Manchester City ended their Champions League group campaign with a 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig.
Last season’s beaten finalists had already secured top spot in the group, meaning Tuesday’s encounter was irrelevant for the Blues.
Pep Guardiola’s men fell behind midway through the first half when Dominik Szoboszlai converted after a defence-splitting pass from Konrad Laimer.
Leipzig then netted again after 71 minutes, when Andre Silva drilled a shot past Zack Steffen, as a lacklustre City failed to hit top gear. Admittedly, there was no need for City to be at their best, and they rested several players and clearly weren’t pressing with their usual gusto.
Riyad Mahrez netted late on for the visitors to give them hope of an unlikely comeback, although those aspirations were put to a halt after Kyle Walker was needlessly sent off on 82 minutes for a mindless kick out at Silva.
- Pep Guardiola: Forget the result, that was always going to be incidental on Tuesday, but resting Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri and Bernardo Silva is of huge benefit given the busy fixture schedule. Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden getting minutes in the tank is also a welcome relief after their recent injury problems.
- Achim Beierlorzer: Beating Guardiola isn’t a bad first game in the managerial hotseat, no matter how short-term that is. The 54-year-old stepped in for Jesse Marsch who was sacked last Sunday and in his maiden match in charge guided the club to the Europa League.
- Riyad Mahrez: The winger’s goal was one of the few moments of quality from City on a disappointing night for the Premier League champions. That’s Mahrez’s fifth European goal this term, and ninth in his last 10 Champions League games.
- Fans: The game in Germany was a gentle reminder how much more enjoyable football is as a spectacle with fans in attendance. The lack of atmosphere helped contribute to what was a tepid affair, with supporters not allowed to attend given the rising level of Covid-19 cases in Germany.
- Club Brugge: The Belgians’ Champions League campaign started so brightly, but ends with a whimper as they bowed out following their comprehensive loss to Paris-Saint Germain.
- Red Bull Arena: The pitch in the east German city didn’t seem in great condition and cut up on several occasions, especially in the wide areas. While the surface didn’t result in many slips, it certainly wasn’t at the same level we’re used to in the Premier League.
- Kyle Walker: The defender’s mindless kick out at Silva resulted in an unnecessary red card, which means he’ll be suspended for the knockout stages when they return in two months’ time. It also killed City’s momentum as the Blues were pushing for a late equaliser.
RB Leipzig (4-3-3): Gulacsi 7; Mukiele 8 (Henrichs 80), Klostermann 6 (Simakan 46; 7), Gvardiol 7, Angelino 6; Kampl 8, Laimer 8 (Adams 63; 7); Nkuku 6, Forsberg 7 (Brobbey 79), Szoboszlai 7; Silva 7 (Moriba 87).
Manchester City (4-3-3): Steffen 7; Walker 5, Stones 6, Ake 6 (Dias 87), Zinchenko 5; Fernandinho 6, De Bruyne 6 (Palmer 87), Gundogan 6; Mahrez 5, Grealish 6, Foden 5 (Sterling 46;6).
Man of the Match
There were some really good performances for the hosts and, in truth our selection could have gone to several players, but Nordi Mukiele just snuck it on this occasion. The full-back marshalled Foden and Grealish well down City’s left, and they had more enjoy after the Frenchman was replaced late on.
Guardiola’s men are back at the Etihad this weekend when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League. The game kicks-off at 12:30pm and will be shown live on BT Sport.