Julian Alvarez strike helps Manchester City overcome stubborn RB Leipzig

By Sports Desk October 04, 2023

Manchester City struck twice late on to continue the winning start to their Champions League defence with a hard-fought 3-1 success at RB Leipzig.

Julian Alvarez finally settled City’s nerves in Wednesday’s Group G encounter with a fine strike six minutes from at the Red Bull Arena before fellow substitute Jeremy Doku wrapped up the win.

Phil Foden had opened the scoring midway through a first half the holders dominated but the hosts responded against the run of play through Lois Openda.

Foden hit the woodwork as City pushed for a winner but, with Erling Haaland faltering in front of goal, it looked like being a frustrating night until Alvarez struck.

That City would need such late heroics from the bench seemed unlikely as they controlled the first half.

The presence of Rodri, who is currently serving a domestic ban, brought a noticeable calm that was missing in his absence in Saturday’s defeat at Wolves.

Yet it was Rico Lewis, playing alongside him in midfield, who caught the eye with his determination to win possession and some driving runs.

Lewis had City’s first serious opportunity after a nice turn in the area but his shot was blocked. Foden drove the ball back across goal from the rebound but Bernardo Silva, returning to the side after injury, failed to turn it in at the far post.

City’s opener came after 25 minutes from another attack instigated by Lewis. The lively youngster pushed forward and played a one-two with Silva before pulling back for Foden in the area.

The England international met it with a first-time shot that bounced beyond Janis Blaswich.

City pushed for a second before the break, with Haaland twice breaking free on the left but the Norwegian first shot wide and was then denied by Blaswich.

It was not until the final minute of the first half that Leipzig had an effort on goal when Openda’s long-range shot was deflected over and City reached the break looking completely untroubled.

All their good work was undone within moments of the restart as Jack Grealish misplaced a pass and they were caught by a Leipzig counter-attack.

Yussuf Poulsen released Openda with a pass from the centre circle and the Belgium international raced through to beat Ederson with a low shot that went in off the base of the post.

Haaland threatened to restore City’s lead when he fired wide and then spurned an even better chance when he missed the target from a Foden cross.

Foden went closer when he curled a free-kick against the bar from a wide angle but Haaland’s frustration continued as he shot at Blaswich and skewed another effort over.

City were caught on the break again but were reprieved when Emil Forsberg failed to find a colleague in the box and Ederson needed to punch clear after substitute Timo Werner broke free.

Pep Guardiola’s changes made the difference as Doku teed up Alvarez to clip a fine shot over Blaswich from the edge of the area.

Doku then put the seal on victory when he finished off a quick break in injury time as Leipzig paid the price for pushing players forward.

Related items

  • Mark Clattenburg did not ask for Forest’s VAR to be changed Mark Clattenburg did not ask for Forest’s VAR to be changed

    Nottingham Forest did not ask for Stuart Attwell to be taken off VAR duties for their match against Everton, sources have told the PA news agency.

    Forest issued an extraordinary statement on social media on Sunday after their 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park, saying they had “warned” referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) that Attwell “was a Luton fan” but that “they did not change him”.

    The statement also complained about three penalty appeals which were turned down. Forest said they were now “considering their options”, while the Football Association is understood to be investigating the post.

    PA understands Forest’s referee analyst Mark Clattenburg contacted PGMOL’s chief refereeing officer Howard Webb on Friday to share that manager Nuno Espirito Santo might be asked about Attwell’s appointment at his pre-match press conference, but ultimately no such questions were asked.

    However, the PA news agency has been told Forest, and Clattenburg, did not request for the appointment of Attwell to be changed and nor did the club express that they had any problem with the appointment.

    Forest have been contacted for comment.

    The Reds were furious not to be awarded spot-kicks by referee Anthony Taylor for challenges on Giovanni Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi by Ashley Young, who also escaped a handball decision. Attwell backed the referee’s on-field decision in each case.

    The club’s social media post on X read: “Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept.

    “We warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game but they didn’t change him. Our patience has been tested multiple times. NFFC will now consider its options.”

    Clattenburg later wrote in a Daily Mail column: “One of these errors would have been bad enough. Three was a joke, and that is why Nottingham Forest were left feeling victimised after another defeat in which zero big decisions went their way.

    “In a season where they have had to endure some egregious refereeing, this trip to Everton was as grim a game as they have encountered since returning to the Premier League.”

    He added: “You will have seen the statement released by the club — how the PGMOL was contacted to warn that it was not appropriate for a Luton fan such as Attwell to play such a pivotal role in a massive match that would impact the relegation race.

    “Certainly, I would not have risked this situation if I were the head of the referees and all of this could have been avoided had the PGMOL simply made smarter appointments.

    “Referees do not make mistakes deliberately but this was mind-boggling to watch. Why Attwell did not send Taylor to his screen, only he will know.”

    Clattenburg also spoke out last month after Forest’s defeat to Liverpool, when he highlighted that referee Paul Tierney had made an error in law by mistakenly handing possession back to Liverpool for a drop ball late in the game.

    On that occasion, the club were fined £75,000 for failing to control their players while first-team coach Steven Reid was fined and given a two-match touchline ban for his abusive behaviour towards Tierney.

  • Jurgen Klopp hopeful luck is on Liverpool’s side for Premier League finale Jurgen Klopp hopeful luck is on Liverpool’s side for Premier League finale

    Jurgen Klopp is hopeful fortune is on Liverpool’s side for the Premier League run-in after their 3-1 victory at Fulham moved them joint top of the table with Arsenal.

    The Reds scored through Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota as they bounced back from Thursday’s Europa League exit to Atalanta and their Anfield defeat to Crystal Palace.

    Klopp admitted the title race excites him, citing rivals Manchester City and Arsenal, much like Liverpool, will need luck during an intense period.

    Liverpool have five games remaining and Klopp said: “Maybe if we can keep it as exciting then in the end fortune is maybe then on our side. We don’t know. We have to try to win as many games as somehow possible, to win as many points as somehow possible.

    “It is an intense season for all of us; everybody needs luck in moments, each of the three teams need that. So, it will be an interesting race and so I am happy that we are in and that part I enjoy.”

    Cody Gakpo slipped Jota through in the 72nd minute before the Portugal attacker finished with a drilled first-time strike into the bottom right-hand corner.

    Klopp lauded the pair’s availability ahead of their final fixtures.

    “It is just super-cool to have Diogo back,” Klopp added.

    “He can play all three positions up front. It is as important that Cody Gakpo is back. He wasn’t injured, but he was a little bit struggling.

    “He is now fully back since three or four games. He is physically there, is extremely strong, keeps the ball and stuff like this, so that’s really helpful as well.”

    Fulham manager Marco Silva admitted his side’s reaction after Liverpool’s second goal was not good enough.

    He said: “From that moment, I agree the reaction was not so good. It was not good enough, not like the first half reaction, and it was more difficult for us to create chances to equalise.”

  • Leon Balogun happy with Rangers’ resilience after semi-final victory over Hearts Leon Balogun happy with Rangers’ resilience after semi-final victory over Hearts

    Leon Balogun believes Rangers showed resilience to overcome Hearts 2-0 in their Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday.

    Eyebrows were raised when Gers boss Philippe Clement left regular centre-back Connor Goldson on the bench with the 35-year-old Nigeria international Balogun making his first start since a 3-0 win over Livingston at Ibrox on February 3.

    After just two wins in eight in all competitions and on the back of a goalless draw against Dundee on Wednesday night, which followed their first ever defeat by Ross County in the cinch Premiership in Dingwall the previous Sunday, the pressure was on the Ibrox side.

    However, a Cyriel Dessers double set up an Old Firm final on May 25, the first since 2002.

    Balogun, in his second spell at the Ibrox club, said: “I think at this club, it felt like we had a few horrible weeks and it’s been two games only, obviously very important games, but within a week.

    “So I think it was very important to bounce back against a team that has put in good performances in every game we have played this season so far.

    “They never make it easy for us and certainly didn’t on Sunday.

    “But it felt good to be out there and show some resilience and get a good result, 2-0 and a clean sheet. Overall I can be can be happy.

    “For me, it was just to make sure to prepare well and to have a good start to the game and do what I’m supposed to do and serve the team.

    “I think overall as a team, as a unit, we did really well.”

    Balogun revealed Clement has tried to keep the Rangers squad focused on the positives during the recent ropey spell which leaves the Light Blues three points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic.

    The Light Blues begin their five post-split fixtures next weekend with a trip to St Mirren on Sunday.

    He said: “He’s been really good with us because he makes sure that we don’t get too emotional because it’s always very easy to watch those games back and then just feel sorry for yourself, talk yourself down.

    “He just reminded us of things that, even though we had bad performances, we still did good.

    “He makes sure that he reminds us of what we have to do and repeats that quite heavily as well.

    “Then you can see throughout the training sessions how the confidence slowly builds back up.

    “I think it’s not a surprise that we had a few difficult spells in the game on Sunday as well.

    “But then again, we showed the character that he was able to instil in the team.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.