Manchester City fought back from a 2-nil halftime deficit to defeat RB Leipzig 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium. The comeback win saw the European champions clinch top spot in Group G of the UEFA Champions League. Though they showed their fighting spirit to fight back after a poor first half, there were some concerns for Pep Guardiola following the win.
The game began with a subdued opening 10 minutes. Both teams had nothing to lose with both having secured their place in the knockout stage of the competition. The first real chance fell the way of RB Leipzig as midfield prodigy Xavi Simons curled an effort just wide of the post which had Stefan Ortega at stretch as the ball sailed wide.
City failed to heed the warning as Lois Openda gave RB Leipzig the lead in the 13th minute. An error from Manuel Akanji allowed the speedy Belgian striker to get clean through on goal. Openda made no mistake with a neat finish to give his side the lead.
The treble winners looked to respond immediately and Ruben Dias put a header over moments later from a Bernardo Silva free kick. Minutes later Rico Lewis fired a shot over the bar as City looked to find an equaliser.
The German side doubled their lead in the 33rd minute with another breakaway. Lois Openda got free of Ruben Dias and cut inside of Josko Gvardiol and best Stefan Ortega with another tidy finish to double RB Leipzig’s lead.
The European champions almost hit back immediately when Erling Haaland fired a shot over after being played through in by Rico Lewis. Haaland also saw a header saved by RB Leipzig keeper Janis Blaswich just before halftime.
Ruben Dias was fortunate to stay on the pitch after fouling Xavi Simons after previously being booked. The referee kept his cards in his pocket and RB Leipzig took a two-goal lead into the interval.
Pep Guardiola made one substitute at halftime bringing on Nathan Ake for Ruben Dias to shore up City’s defence. Ake’s introduction immediately settled the treble winner’s defence. He made two more substitutions in the 54th minute with Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez coming on for Jack Grealish and Kyle Walker.
The changes had the desired effect as Erling Haaland expertly put his name on the scoresheet after being played through by Phil Foden. City’s number 9 became the quickest and youngest player in UEFA Champions League history to reach 40 goals in the competition with his goal.
RB Leipzig began to sit deeper as City pressed for an equaliser. They did however pose a threat on the counter with their pace.
Pep Guardiola’s side did find an equaliser in the 70th minute through Phil Foden. The midfielder was expertly played in by Josko Gvardiol and his quick feet and precise finish made it 2-all.
The DFB Pokal winners responded with Benjamin Sesko having a powerful strike tipped over the bar by Stefan Ortega. They then had a goal from Fabio Carvalho chalked off for offside as both sides pressed for a winner.
A winner would come for Manchester City in the 87th minute as Phil Foden and the lively Jeremy Doku combined to tee up Juluab Alvarez to smash home to win it for City. The goal capped off another remarkable comeback for the European champions and ensured they made it five wins from five in the group stage.
Pep Guardiola’s side showed their fighting spirit and resiliency to overturn the 2-nil halftime deficit. They have a remarkable ability to fight back and it was evident again.
It’s an issue that needs addressing ahead of Sunday’s match with Tottenham at the Etihad.