Leipzig close on Champions League last 16 with win at Zenit
Saint Petersburg (AFP) –
RB Leipzig closed on a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League for the first time as goals by Diego Demme and Marcel Sabitzer gave the German side a 2-0 win away to Zenit Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
Captain Demme opened the scoring with a very rare goal in first-half stoppage time at the Gazprom Arena and Sabitzer added the second on 63 minutes.
The result leaves Julian Nagelsmann's team on top of Group G with nine points from four games, five points ahead of Zenit and Lyon and six better off than Benfica before the latter two sides meet in France later.
Leipzig will therefore have the chance to secure qualification for the last 16 when they host Benfica in the next round of games on November 27.
They had been in prolific form coming into this trip to Russia, scoring 14 goals in their previous two outings with a 6-1 win at Wolfsburg in the German Cup being followed by a stunning 8-0 victory against Mainz in the Bundesliga at the weekend.
The visitors had an early goal disallowed as Marcel Halstenberg fired home low into the net from outside the box in the 14th minute only for a VAR review to show Christopher Nkunku had been guilty of a handball in the build-up.
As half-time approached, the Russian league leaders almost broke the deadlock when a Sardar Azmoun shot trickled agonisingly past the far post.
Moments later it was Leipzig who went in front at the other end, Demme rifling home low into the bottom-left corner after a Sabitzer free-kick had been blocked by the Zenit wall.
Germany striker Timo Werner was only on the bench for Leipzig at kick-off despite scoring five goals and laying on five more in their last two matches.
However, he was introduced on 61 minutes and two minutes later he was involved as the visitors doubled their lead.
Werner collected possession on the left and found Emil Forsberg, whose pass into the box was dispatched by Austrian international Sabitzer.
He had also scored the winner when Leipzig beat Zenit 2-1 in the reverse fixture two weeks ago and his latest strike ensured there was no way back for the Russians.
© 2019 AFP