Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 RB Leipzig
SPURS face a mammoth task to keep their UEFA Champions League hopes alive after classy Bundesliga outfit, RB Leipzig, won by a goal to nil in their round of sixteen, first-leg tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Many believed Spurs had been handed an altogether more comfortable draw, avoiding the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, boss, Jose Mourinho, was mindful of the threat offered by a Leipzig side very much in their own domestic title race.
“They are a very good team, Mourinho explained.
“They were leading the Bundesliga since the beginning of the season, they’ve just dropped one point behind Bayern but we know how powerful Bayern are in the Bundesliga so just by that, you can imagine the quality of their team.”
With Heung-Min Sonn having joined Harry Kane as a long-term casualty, Spurs desperately needed someone to step up to the plate and provide firepower. However, It was the home sides’ goal that led a charmed life during the game’s infancy. Hugo Lloris somehow deflected Angelino’s close-range effort against an upright, while Timo Werner was twice thwarted as the Bundesliga outfit flew out of the traps.
Spurs responded. Leipzig stopper, Peter Gulácsi, pushed out from Steven Bergwijn – Dele unable to profit from the pieces amidst a cauldron of noise. But it was the Germans who continued to impress – Patrik Schick nodding the wrong side of the post and Angelino driving into Lloris’s midriff with an angled attempt.
Mourinho’s side were struggling to make any headway in the face of wave after wave of Leipzig assaults. Werner again went close, this after a lightning raid down the left, then Lloris stuck out a glove to deny the same player as Spurs hung on grimly.
Spurs came mighty close to opening the scoring immediately after the interval. Serge Aurier clipped goalwards – Gulácsi springing to his right to rebuff the effort. But when Leipzig swiftly responded, Ben Davies was clumsy on Konrad Laimer – Werner doing the honours with aplomb from the resulting spot-kick.
Minutes later, Spurs almost found themselves two behind. Lloris producing a wonderful save to keep out Patrik Schick’s stinging strike. Meanwhile, Giovan Lo Celso came agonisingly close to levelling the score when Gulácsi’s fingertips diverted his dead-ball attempt against the post.
But Tottenham’s lack of an outlet was proving costly against a well-drilled German defence. The introduction of Erik Lamela and Tanguy Ndombele made little impact. Lameka had Gulácsi scrambling across his goal, covering the Argentine’s speculative free-kick. Then, Lucas Moura should have done better, heading over from close range after Davies had centred.
But against a very impressive side, Tottenham simply hadn’t done enough. They head to Germany in a fortnight needing to replicate the kind of performance produced in last seasons semi-final, second-leg in Amsterdam if they are to stand any chance of progressing.
Tottenham Hotspur return to Premier League action on Saturday, February 22 when they take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (12:30pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sánchez, Ben Davies, Harry Winks, Gedson Fernandes (Erik Lamela 64’), Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli (Tanguy Ndombele 64’), Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura Subs not used: Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), T Oliver Skipp, Japhet Tanganga
Booked: Ben Davies (foul)
RB Leipzig: Peter Gulácsi, Nordi Mukiele, Marcel Halstenberg, Lukas Klostermann, Angelino, Konrad Laimer (Emil Forsberg 84’), Ethan Ampadu, Marcel Sabitzer (Capt), Christopher Nkunku (Amadou Haidara 74’), Patrik Schick (Yussuf Poulsen 77’), Timo Werner Subs not used: Ademola Lookman, Hannes Wolf, Dani Olmo, Yvon Mvogo
Booked: Marcel Sabitzer (foul), Timo Werner (foul), Christopher Nkunku (foul)
Goals: Timo Werner (penalty) 58’
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
Assistants: Bahattin Duran and Tarik Ongun (Both Turkey)
Fourth Official: Halil Meler (Turkey)
Reaction to follow…