Thomas Tuchel insists he will give everything to Bayern Munich ahead of his departure in the summer and hopes the decision over his future allows the team to play with “freedom”.

Tuchel has been unable to arrest a downturn in form, and speculation over his position came to a head this week when the club announced he would be leaving at the end of the current campaign.

Saturday’s game against RB Leipzig will be his first in charge since the news became public, with Bayern looking to end a three-game losing streak following losses to title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio and Bochum.

And while there is a possibility Tuchel could be seen as a lame duck coach over the coming months, he thinks the removal of uncertainty over his role could spark an upturn.

“I view it professionally and unemotionally. It’s a professional sport at the highest level,” he said of his shortened reign.

“There aren’t guilty individuals. I don’t think I’m the only problem, but I have responsibility. Now we have a new situation, it’s resolved, which hopefully makes it clear and brings freedom.

“This job only works if I give 100 per cent of myself. I have a very high professional expectation of myself and that’s completely dedicated to Bayern Munich until the end of the season. We have aims: we’re going for the maximum in the league and won’t give up until it’s over. In the Champions League we still have a second leg (against Lazio), so we are playing for maximum success.”

Tuchel resisted the temptation to divert blame away from himself and on to his players, but accepted the performance levels on matchday had been falling consistently short of expectations.

“The management know my analysis, which is also very self-critical. But it’s definitely not an analysis for the public,” he said.

“I’m not personally disappointed in the players. We have high standards, that won’t change. I’ve never had the feeling that there’s a big problem but there is a glaring discrepancy between the way we’re training and the way we’re playing. We’ve trained at a good level but that’s no guarantee that we’ll produce a good performance.”

Injuries have upset Bayern’s rhythm this term and they continue to be stretched, with Dayot Upamecano suspended and an injury list that contains Kingsley Coman, Sacha Boey, Noussair Mazraoui, Bouna Sarr, Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies.

Leipzig have proved tricky opponents in recent times, taking two draws and two wins from their last four games against Bayern.

Dani Olmo bagged a hat-trick when his side romped to a 3-0 win in the Super Cup final last August, a memory that still burns bright with the Spaniard.

“I would say it was a perfect game from all of us and for me individually to score three goals in Munich, in the Allianz, and to be able to win a trophy,” he said.

“It was for sure one of my best performances but we have to keep going because football never stops and now we have another chance. Bayern is always the opponent that motivates us. It’s always special.”

Brahim Diaz provided a stunning response to the challenge of deputising for the injured Jude Bellingham by firing Real Madrid to a 1-0 Champions League victory at RB Leipzig.

Diaz’s superb 48th-minute solo effort secured a last-16 win at the Red Bull Arena to put the Spanish side in the driving seat ahead of the second leg at the Bernabeu, although he later limped off in a fresh blow for boss Carlo Ancelotti.

His intervention could hardly have been better timed with 20-goal England international Bellingham facing two to three weeks on the sidelines with a sprained ankle and the 14-time European champions misfiring for long periods in his absence.

Indeed, had Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko made the most of the chances which came his way and Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin not been in inspired form, the Spaniards might have had significantly more work to do on their own pitch.

The hosts set out their stall from the off when Sesko headed into the net after Xaver Schlager had helped the ball back into the box from Lunin’s punch as he dealt with David Raum’s second-minute corner.

However, the assistant referee’s flag went up immediately and the goal was disallowed, with replays showing Sesko was not offside but team-mate Benjamin Henrichs, who made contact with Lunin, was.

Sesko might have had a hat-trick inside the opening 10 minutes, failing to make the most of Xavi Simons’ fine pass and then firing straight at Lunin, although in the meantime, Real defender Aurelien Tchouameni saw a ninth-minute header cleared off the line, with keeper Peter Gulacsi safely claiming Eduardo Camavinga’s follow-up.

Henrichs tested Lunin from distance, but Toni Kroos responded in kind to keep Gulacsi on his toes after Vinicius Jr had made his first real contribution down the left.

Camavinga got in a vital touch to deflect Sesko’s 20th-minute attempt into the side-netting as Real continued to look vulnerable at the back, with Tchouameni having to make a vital challenge to deny Sesko before Vinicius stabbed wide after exchanging passes with Diaz in stoppage time.

But Bellingham’s replacement broke the deadlock within three minutes of the restart, and he did so in spectacular fashion.

Picking up the ball wide on the right, Diaz span away from Raum and cut inside Simons and then Schlager before curling a left-foot shot across Gulacsi and inside the far post.

Leipzig would have been level almost immediately had Lunin not produced a double save from Dani Olmo and Sesko, and the keeper had to race from his line to prevent Sesko from latching onto Olmo’s excellent through-ball as the Germans fought for a way back into the game.

At the other end, Schlager did just enough to put off Rodrygo as he ran onto Vinicius’ 64th-minute pass after Real had broken at pace, and the Brazilian saw a shot come back off a post after he and Diaz had ripped the home defence to shreds with 19 minutes remaining.

Lunin produced a string of saves to deny Simons, Sesko and Amadou Haidara as Leipzig pushed for an equaliser, but the late assault proved to no avail.

Jude Bellingham has not travelled to Germany for Real Madrid’s Champions League round-of-16 first-leg clash against RB Leipzig due to an ankle injury.

The England midfielder was not named in the Real squad for the trip after a sprained ankle forced him off in Saturday’s 4-0 win over surprise LaLiga title rivals Girona – but not before he had scored a brace.

Bellingham has scored 20 goals in 31 appearances for Real and rapidly become one of their most important players but manager Carlo Ancelotti is confident his side can cope.

“We have to think that Bellingham isn’t here, but we’ve won four out of four games without him,” the Italian said at his pre-match press conference. “Those who have replaced him have done very well, like Brahim (Diaz) or Joselu.

“He’s a very important player, but I think this has been an opportunity to get more motivated.

“We arrive on the back of a good run – the form is good. We are up against a good side with plenty of quality that plays a high-tempo game.

“We have shown lots of character, and credit to the team. The vibe is good.”

Leipzig boss Marco Rose, who coached Bellingham at Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22, is not convinced the 20-year-old will not feature on Tuesday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, he said: “I won’t believe that Jude will be out until he’s not in the stadium tomorrow.

“I know Jude, I know that he will do everything to play a Champions League game.”

Even without Bellingham, Ancelotti has plenty of star-power to choose from, but Rose insists his side will not be intimidated.

“We’re certainly not afraid,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the opponent, to the task, to our stadium. That’s what we want. What we worked hard for last season and now in the group stage.

“Real Madrid have developed outstandingly this season and become one of the strongest teams in Europe. They are in exceptionally good shape – in all areas.

“They know what it means to play in the Champions League and win it too. And we know about their qualities.

“But we’re not that bad and we have great footballers in our ranks. We will give everything and look for our opportunities to develop a good starting position.”

Defender Mohamed Simakan is in contention despite picking up a knock in the weekend Bundesliga draw at Augsburg, while midfielder Amadou Haidara has stepped up training after picking up a knee problem on Mali duty at the Africa Cup of Nations but remains doubtful.

Tottenham have completed their first signing of the January transfer window with the loan addition of RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.

Former Chelsea attacker Werner arrives on a six-month deal, which includes the option to make the transfer permanent in the summer.

Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou gave the green light to sign the 27-year-old with captain Son Heung-min set to miss the next month while at the Asian Cup with South Korea.

Werner returns to the Premier League with unfinished business after he endured a mixed spell at Chelsea, scoring 23 times in 89 appearances after a £54million move.

The Germany international did play a role in the Blues’ Champions League success in 2021 and will aim to rediscover his best form in London.

Werner left Chelsea two years ago to return to his former club Leipzig in a £25m switch and while he scored 16 times last season, opportunities have been limited under manager Marco Rose this term with only four starts in all competitions.

He is in line to make his Tottenham debut in this weekend’s away fixture at Manchester United and could extend his stay in N17 if the temporary switch proves to be a success.

 

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An option to make the transfer permanent for a fee between 15million and £20m euros has been included in the deal.

While Werner boasts an inconsistent record over the past few seasons, his versatility will provide greater options in attack for Postecoglou with the ex-Stuttgart forward able to play in a central role or on either wing.

Tottenham are also chasing the signature of Genoa’s Radu Dragusin.

Spurs stepped up talks with the Serie A club last week but face competition from Bayern Munich in their efforts to conclude a deal for the Romania centre-back before Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Djed Spence could head in the other direction after being offered to Genoa on a six-month loan, PA understands.

RB Leipzig boss Marco Rose has wished forward Timo Werner all the best ahead of his anticipated loan move to Tottenham.

Spurs have moved for the former Chelsea attacker to bolster their options up front, especially with captain Son Heung-min being away at the Asian Cup with South Korea for the next month.

Werner’s current club Leipzig revealed on Saturday he was not involved in their friendly with St Gallen due to transfer talks and Rose has now confirmed his imminent six-month loan to Tottenham.

Rose told Sky Germany: “It’s right that Timo wants to go on loan. Timo would like to go to the European Championship.

“We wish him all the best and are keeping our fingers crossed for him.”

Germany international Werner will return to the Premier League with unfinished business after two mixed years at Chelsea, where he scored 23 goals in 89 appearances, and would be available for Spurs’ FA Cup fourth-round tie on the weekend of January 28, with the draw set to take place on Monday.

Tottenham attacker Brennan Johnson urged his team-mates to keep building momentum after their 1-0 win over Burnley on Friday.

Pedro Porro’s 78th-minute strike eventually broke Burnley’s resistance and it made it four wins in five matches for Spurs.

Despite a plethora of unavailable players, Johnson is relishing the attacking philosophy being implemented by head coach Ange Postecoglou.

“We’re enjoying it a lot. You can tell by how we play on the pitch,” Johnson told ITV. “We want to keep progressing individually and as a team we want to keep getting better.

“Before the game, the manager said, ‘we’re in two competitions, the Premier League and FA Cup, and we’re at no point where we can slack off in this cup or play half-hearted’.

“We know even (here), we won 1-0 but it went to seven minutes of extra time and they pushed with everything.

“We have to be on it 100 per cent and play how we play every week. If we can keep building momentum in this cup and keep playing how we do in the Premier League, I think we have every chance (of winning silverware).”

It was not a completely positive night for Postecoglou, with Giovani Lo Celso forced off early and, more worryingly, Ben Davies suffering a potential hamstring injury.

While Postecoglou hoped Lo Celso’s withdrawal was “muscle fatigue,” he was more downbeat about Davies, who will be assessed over the coming days.

There was better news on Micky van de Ven, after he returned following a two-month absence with a hamstring injury only to remain an unused substitute ahead of next weekend’s trip to Manchester United.

“He’s fine. The plan was to give him some game time but the way the game was going, we needed something up front to crack them open,” Postecoglou added. “We kept him on ice but he’s trained this week, he was OK and will train fully (next week). He’s available.”

Burnley also have injury concerns ahead of hosting Luton on January 15 with Lyle Foster replaced with an unspecified issue, while Charlie Taylor hurt his shoulder.

Clarets boss Vincent Kompany explained: “We’ll see. I hope it’s not bad news.

“I can’t tell you much more, but hopefully with that little bit of extra time before the next game, we’ll have some good news.”

Manuel Akanji admits Manchester City need to cut our the errors after being exposed in their comeback victory over RB Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium.

The holders trailed 2-0 after a lacklustre first-half display in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter before a Phil Foden-inspired recovery saw them fight back to win 3-2.

With their place in the last 16 already secure, there was little cause for alarm on the night but, after recent Premier League draws against Chelsea and Liverpool, the champions are not fully firing.

Switzerland defender Akanji said: “We didn’t play well in the first half. We did a lot of mistakes, (in) a lot of duels.

“We had it change it in the second half. We spoke in half-time that we needed to do better. It still wasn’t great but we improved a lot, we didn’t do many of the mistakes.

“It happens sometimes. We didn’t plan to go into the game like this. The first goal was me losing a duel off the long ball, the second one was Ruben (Dias) after the pass and it happens sometimes.

“Normally we don’t do these mistakes but the good thing is we’ve got a good team.

“Now we have important games before the Club World Cup against Spurs and Villa and we need to really focus on these games. We need points because we drew twice so it’s really important to get winning again.”

Akanji was indeed at fault for the first of Lois Openda’s two first-half goals, with Dias caught out for the second.

Foden sparked the comeback when he teed up Erling Haaland to become fastest player to reach 40 Champions League goals in just his 35th appearance.

The England midfielder then scored a sublime equaliser before showing further nimble footwork to set up the late winner for substitute Julian Alvarez.

The victory ensures City, who travel to Red Star Belgrade next month, will finish top of Group G.

With John Stones again not fit enough to feature, Akanji played in the defence-midfield hybrid role his colleague has excelled in.

“I like it,” Akanji said. “I play wherever the manager puts me but also in the Chelsea game and the weekend against Liverpool I felt more comfortable in there because I got used to the position.

“When you come from defence into midfield it’s a big difference because normally you have all the game in front of you and suddenly there are players coming from all angles.

“But I got a better orientation with the game set-up so I felt more confident. I can adapt pretty good. I play in different positions. I try to listen and do what the manager wants from me.”

Phil Foden felt Manchester City were at their worst before recovering from 2-0 down to secure top spot in their Champions League group with a 3-2 win over Leipzig.

The holders trailed to two breakaway Lois Openda goals at half-time of Tuesday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Foden sparked their recovery after the interval, teeing up goals for Erling Haaland and substitute Jeremy Doku either side of scoring a sublime effort himself.

The England midfielder told TNT Sports: “First half was the worst I’ve seen us. Courage and motivation courage changed it around. This team has great mentality and it’s so nice to see.

“We just needed that goal to get going. Even the fans were a lot louder after the goal. Once the first went in the motivation was there. We’ve got a great record at the Etihad and it only takes one goal to change things.”

City’s victory not only made certain of preferential seeding in the last 16 for a seventh successive season but extended their English record unbeaten run in European competition to 19 games.

Manager Pep Guardiola was pleased with that achievement but admitted concern about the performance.

The Spaniard said: “If we talk about the qualification it is a great night. If we talk about the game, we could do better.

“Sloppy goals – in football you have to win duels and it was quite similar against Chelsea. We were solid and now we’ve had two warnings already.

“It’s the same up front. We’ve had chances and missed them.

“But maybe for the future it’s good to win not comfortably, to show we are able to make a comeback.

“When we scored early in the second half, 45 minutes was a long time for them. It was not easy because they defended really well and they were strong, but we are there.

“Now we have five days to recover for the game against Spurs.”

Leipzig’s display was a huge improvement on their 7-0 loss at the same venue last season and coach Marco Rose felt his side were unfortunate not to get more from the game.

Rose said: “We knew we made them angry in the first half. It got more difficult.

“If we kept the clean sheet a little bit longer, maybe then the chance would become bigger and bigger to win or to take something home, but at the end you need a little bit of luck and that is what we missed maybe.

“We played a really good game, but this is City.”

What the papers say

Former Chelsea striker Timo Werner has emerged as a January target for Manchester United, according to the Metro. But the paper says the 27-year-old German international would prefer to fight for his place at RB Leipzig.

United are looking to add depth in four positions in the transfer window according to The Guardian. Defensive midfielder is one area targeted, while France defender Raphael Varane, 30, is among those who could be making way for any new arrivals.

Fulham are keen on Chelsea striker Armando Broja, 22, in January, reports The Standard. But the Blues want to keep the Albanian at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal and Rangers are competing for the signature of England Under-17 forward Mason Cotcher, reports the Daily Telegraph. The 17-year-old has been training with the first-team squad at Arsenal since leaving Sunderland.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Guido Rodriguez: Manchester United and Barcelona are keen on the Argentina midfielder, 29, but Marca says Real Betis remain hopeful of keeping him.

Donyell Malen: Borussia Dortmund’s Dutch international winger, 24, remains a target for Liverpool, according to Bild.

Phil Foden felt Manchester City were at their worst before recovering from 2-0 down to secure top spot in their Champions League group with a 3-2 win over Leipzig.

The holders trailed to two breakaway Lois Openda goals at half-time of Tuesday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Foden sparked their recovery after the interval, teeing up goals for Erling Haaland and substitute Jeremy Doku either side of scoring a sublime effort himself.

The England midfielder told TNT Sports: “First half was the worst I’ve seen us. Courage and motivation courage changed it around. This team has great mentality and it’s so nice to see.

“We just needed that goal to get going. Even the fans were a lot louder after the goal. Once the first went in the motivation was there. We’ve got a great record at the Etihad and it only takes one goal to change things.”

City’s victory not only made certain of preferential seeding in the last 16 for a seventh successive season but extended their English record unbeaten run in European competition to 19 games.

Manager Pep Guardiola was pleased with that achievement but admitted concern about the performance.

The Spaniard said: “If we talk about the qualification it is a great night. If we talk about the game, we could do better.

“Sloppy goals – in football you have to win duels and it was quite similar against Chelsea. We were solid and now we’ve had two warnings already.

“It’s the same up front. We’ve had chances and missed them.

“But maybe for the future it’s good to win not comfortably, to show we are able to make a comeback.

“When we scored early in the second half, 45 minutes was a long time for them. It was not easy because they defended really well and they were strong, but we are there.

“Now we have five days to recover for the game against Spurs.”

Leipzig’s display was a huge improvement on their 7-0 loss at the same venue last season and coach Marco Rose felt his side were unfortunate not to get more from the game.

Rose said: “We knew we made them angry in the first half. It got more difficult.

“If we kept the clean sheet a little bit longer, maybe then the chance would become bigger and bigger to win or to take something home, but at the end you need a little bit of luck and that is what we missed maybe.

“We played a really good game, but this is City.”

Phil Foden created two and scored another as holders Manchester City came from 2-0 down to preserve their unbeaten Champions League run with a 3-2 win over RB Leipzig.

Erling Haaland also broke another record as City produced an emphatic response to Lois Openda’s first-half double at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Substitute Julian Alvarez came off the bench to wrap up the fightback and secure top spot in Group G for Pep Guardiola’s formidable side.

Foden sparked the turnaround when he teed up Haaland early in the second half for the strike that saw the Norwegian become the fastest player to reach 40 goals in the competition, in just 35 appearances.

The England midfielder added a sublime second himself before further great footwork presented Alvarez with City’s third.

Both teams had gone into the game knowing their places in the last 16 were secure but, aside from the final group positions, there were also matters of pride to play for.

City were looking to protect an English record 18-game unbeaten run in European competition while Leipzig were keen to erase the memory of their 7-0 thrashing at the same venue last season.

The Bundesliga side started strongly and were keen to test City’s back-up goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.

City had an early let-off when Xavi Simons curled a low effort wide.

It was a warning that was not heeded as a simple long ball from goalkeeper Janis Blaswich caught out the home defence. Manuel Akanji clumsily allowed the ball to bounce in attempting to nudge Openda out of the way and paid the price as the Belgium forward broke free.

Openda, who also scored in Leipzig’s home clash with City last month, showed great composure as he raced into the area and buried a low shot past Ortega.

City almost found a quick equaliser as Ruben Dias headed over and Rico Lewis then did superbly to control a pass and beat a defender but he also cleared the crossbar.

City were exposed again by another ball from deep just after the half-hour. This time Dias was unable to cut out the pass and was beaten by Openda by the touchline.

Again Openda showed his pace and could not be stopped as he cut inside and rifled past Ortega.

Haaland tried to rescue the situation but blazed well over and then headed tamely at Blaswich.

Akanji’s poor showing continued as he caught David Raum with a late challenge but he escaped a booking.

City showed more determination after the break and pulled one back in the 54th minute, just seconds after Jeremy Doku and Alvarez were introduced in a double change for Jack Grealish and Kyle Walker.

Foden split the defence with a clever pass and Haaland raced through to finish powerfully.

Foden took centre stage to net the equaliser himself on 70 minutes, taking a sublime touch to take out a defender on the edge of the box and then cleverly rolling past Blaswich.

Leipzig were not done and on-loan Liverpool forward Fabio Carvalho thought he had put the visitors back ahead immediately after coming off the bench but his effort was ruled out for offside.

It was a moment they were to rue as Foden spun inside the area from a Doku pass and squared for Alvarez to tuck home three minutes from time.

RB Leipzig are hoping to restore some pride as they return to the scene of last season’s thrashing by Manchester City, coach Marco Rose has said.

The German side were crushed 7-0 by the eventual Champions League winners when they visited the Etihad Stadium in the last-16 stage of the competition in March.

The two sides meet again at the same venue for a group match on Tuesday, with both having already secured their places in the knockout stages.

Rose said at a press conference: “Last year with the 7-0 thrashing, it put us down, it knocked us down. We haven’t spoken about it but it was not a good feeling after the game.

“But we became cup champions in Germany after the game and we qualified for the Champions League, so it didn’t destroy us as a team.

“Tomorrow we want to do better for sure. We want to compete with one of the best teams in the world. We want to show that we can make it better, that we are better.

“It’s difficult. We will have to suffer tomorrow. I didn’t see a team here that had much possession. Even Liverpool I think had just 40 per cent ball possession.

“So we know what we’ll get but we are here to try again.”

Erling Haaland scored five goals for City in that last meeting and Rose knows all about the threat the Norwegian poses having managed him at his former club Borussia Dortmund.

He said: “I hope the relationship is as good as it always was but obviously he has to do his job tomorrow. We have to try and suppress him if we can.

“We’ll enjoy watching him play but hopefully we’ll be able to stifle him.”

Leipzig go into what is their penultimate game in Group G trailing City by three points. Top spot is still to be finalised but the Germans need to win to have any hope of overhauling the English outfit.

What the papers say

Casemiro could be on the verge of leaving Old Trafford. The Sun, via talkSPORT, says Manchester United are willing to hear offers for the 31-year-old midfielder, with the Saudi Pro League said to be targeting a big money move for the Brazilian. Incoming minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe will be open to letting Casemiro leave in a bid to freshen up the squad.

Staying with United, the Daily Mail reports Juventus plan to offer Jadon Sancho an escape route from Old Trafford. According to the paper, the Italian giant recently reached out to United over a potential loan move for the 23-year-old winger, who has not appeared for the Red Devils since August. However, it is unlikely Juventus would be able to afford a transfer fee for a player United paid £73million for in 2021.

And The Standard says Chelsea are confident Victor Osimhen is open to a move to Stamford Bridge, but any move for the Napoli striker is unlikely to come before next summer.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Ruben Neves: The Al-Hilal midfielder may become available for a move to Arsenal in January, according to the website 90min.

Emil Forsberg: Journalist Fabrizio Romano says the 32-year-old has verbally agreed to join New York Red Bulls from RB Leipzig.

Pep Guardiola hailed Rico Lewis as one of the best players he has ever coached after his starring role in Manchester City’s hard-fought win at RB Leipzig.

The 18-year-old produced a commanding display as the holders maintained the winning start to their Champions League defence with a 3-1 success at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.

Lewis, who made his first-team breakthrough as a right-back last season, had a hand in Phil Foden’s opening goal and proved City’s main driving force throughout.

City manager Guardiola, the former Barcelona boss whose past players have included Lionel Messi, said: “What a player! What a player!

“I’ve been a manager for 14, 15, years and lucky to train one of the best players in the world in Barcelona.

“To find a player like him playing in the pockets, how he has to move as a holding midfielder, moving in the spaces, he is one of the best I’ve ever trained by far.

“He’s a humble guy, doesn’t talk much. He didn’t play much this season but he is going to play a lot.”

Despite Lewis’ contributions, it took the introduction of substitutes Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku to secure a hard-fought victory.

City controlled the first half and led at the break through Foden’s 25th-minute strike but they were pegged back after the restart by Lois Openda.

The second half was a frustrating affair with Erling Haaland missing several chances and Foden hitting the bar but Alvarez made the breakthrough with a stunning effort on 84 minutes.

Doku wrapped up a second successive win in Group G in injury time.

After back-to-back defeats domestically, Guardiola was pleased to get back to winning ways.

He said: “Three or four days ago it was no progress because we lost in Wolves. It was important to break that.

“We played a fantastic game in all departments. We conceded two or three transitions in the second half but it’s normal. When a team is able to make a lot of passes early on, very nice things are going to happen in the game.

“The guys who came from the bench, the contribution they have done is the key point. Everyone helped each other. I am really satisfied. It was a tough game.”

Leipzig coach Marco Rose was pleased with the effort of his side but had no complaints about the result.

Rose said: “Manchester City deserved to win, even if it was 1-1 in the 83rd minute and we had hoped to hold on until the end.

“We did well after the break and got our equaliser. It was then an open game then but City put us under pressure at the death again. We are learning from the best.”

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.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has accused referees of stealing the spotlight from players following last weekend’s VAR controversy in the Premier League.

The 52-year-old has sympathised with rivals Liverpool after the Reds had a goal against Tottenham incorrectly disallowed for offside following a VAR review.

It was arguably the most contentious of all decisions taken since the technology was introduced and prompted the Merseyside club to issue a strong statement saying “sporting integrity” had been undermined.

Guardiola is concerned that such incidences are detracting from the game’s main actors.

He said: “I understand completely how upset Liverpool must be in that case.

“They will have to find a system where the main roles are the players and the game itself. In all the countries, not just here. The referees and the VARs are the leading roles. And the Oscar goes to.

“They have to make a step back, be more humble and leave the players to do what they have to do, and they will be better.”

Guardiola did not have any suggestions himself on how the system could be improved.

“I am not a professional at that,” the Spaniard said. “I rely on the people and we have to apply it as best as possible. I am not involved and I don’t care.

“Everyone knows they made a mistake and Liverpool suffered the big consequence of that. In this type of game it is so important. But, no worries, the consequences will dictate the players and the managers.”

Guardiola was speaking to the media via a Zoom call after City were forced to rearrange their travel plans for Wednesday’s Champions League game at RB Leipzig.

He had been due to hold a pre-match press conference at the RB Arena on arrival on Tuesday afternoon but their flight was rescheduled for evening due to strong winds in the German city.

Guardiola brushed off the impact of the disruption ahead of the Group G encounter.

He said: “It’s no problem. That it’s safe to fly and land, that’s the important thing.”

John Stones and Bernardo Silva were due to travel with the squad having recently returned to training following injury.

Stones has not played since the Community Shield due to a thigh problem while Silva has missed the last three games with a knock.

Guardiola said: “They feel better, Bernardo better than John. Both travel and we’ll decide tomorrow. We’re really happy they’re back.”

Rodri, who still has one game of a domestic suspension to serve, will feature before being given time off ahead of the upcoming international break.

The Spain midfielder was sorely missed in last weekend’s defeat at Wolves and his absence will again be felt at Arsenal on Sunday but Guardiola hopes some good can come from the situation.

He said: “You always have to take the positive. Rodri’s going to play the game tomorrow and then I’ll give him a rest, go to the Maldives for four or five days before joining the national team.”

Guardiola, wearing a black armband, also paid tribute to former City player and chairman Francis Lee, who died this week.

He said: “We are here (because of) people like Franny Lee, Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell, part of the generation that created a part of this organisation, this club.

“On behalf of the team, to his wife and all the family, a huge hug.”

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