Benjamin Sesko says "there's still a lot more to be done" at RB Leipzig after signing a new deal with the Bundesliga side.

The 21-year-old was linked with a move away from Red Bull Arena, with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea reportedly interested in landing his signature.

However, the striker has put pen to paper on an extension to his existing contract, keeping him at the club until 2029.

Sesko, who arrived from Red Bull Salzburg on a five-year deal last July, scored 18 goals in 42 appearances during his debut season as he helped Leipzig to a fourth-place finish in Bundesliga.

And the Slovenia international, who is set to face England, Denmark and Serbia at Euro 2024, is thrilled to extend his stay with RBL.

"I had a good first year at Leipzig and am incredibly happy to be here," he told the club's official website. "[The] team, club, city, fans - the overall package is simply outstanding for me. The early contract extension was, therefore, the logical next step for me.

"Even though I didn't play or score as much in the first half of the season, this phase was very important for me and my development. I feel a lot of trust and appreciation throughout the club and that is crucial for being able to perform to my full potential.

"In the second half of the season in particular, I was able to give something back with my goals. We have a team with great potential and a balanced mix of young and experienced players. I'm really looking forward to taking the next steps with this team.

"We've already achieved a lot in my first season and often shown the amount of quality and outstanding football we can bring to the pitch. But there's still a lot more to be done, and that's now our common goal."

"Benji is one of our key players for the coming seasons and that is why the extension is a strong signal," sporting director Rouven Schroder added. "This also underlines our ambitions to be a permanent fixture in the Bundesliga and to be one of the top clubs in Europe.

"[He] embodies our DNA and playing philosophy perfectly. With the new contract, we can continue to drive our squad planning forward."

Andrej Kramaric scored a last-minute equaliser to deny RB Leipzig victory in Friday's 1-1 Bundesliga draw at Hoffenheim, in a game which saw Xavi Simons sent off.

Simons was shown his second yellow card with 18 minutes to play, with fourth-placed Leipzig 1-0 up courtesy of Benjamin Sesko's first-half header.

Marco Rose's team looked set to leapfrog Stuttgart into third ahead of Saturday's fixtures, but Kramaric – who had earlier been denied by a huge double save from Peter Gulasci – salvaged a point for the hosts with stoppage time mere seconds away.

While Leipzig missed the chance to move eight points clear of fifth-placed Borussia Dortmund, both teams will be playing Champions League football next season after Germany clinched a top-two place in UEFA's coefficient rankings this week.

Data Debrief: Flying full-back creates again 

David Raum assisted Sesko's opener with a pinpoint cross, the eighth goal he has teed up in the Bundesliga this season. Seven of those have been headers, a joint-high tally among all players, alongside Borussia Monchengladbach's Franck Honorat.

Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund suffered a crushing 4-1 Bundesliga defeat at the hands of RB Leipzig on Saturday, denting their hopes of a top-four finish.

Manchester United loanee Jadon Sancho put Dortmund ahead after 20 minutes with a curling effort from the left corner of the box, but Edin Terzic's team couldn't hold on.

Lois Openda levelled within three minutes, and Benjamin Sesko pounced with a close-range finish to put Leipzig ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Mohamed Simakan made it 3-1 just one minute after the restart, then Christoph Baumgartner came off the bench to add a fourth with 10 minutes to play.

Dortmund, who host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday, stay fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Leipzig.

They will likely have to wait on confirmation of Germany earning a fifth Champions League qualification place for next season, which was made more likely by a dismal set of results for England's clubs throughout the European quarter-finals earlier this month.

Data Debrief: Dynamic duo lead Leipzig to victory

Goals from Openda and Sesko ensured Leipzig turned Saturday's game around before the halfway point, both players netting in their fourth successive Bundesliga game together. 

They are the first pair of team-mates to achieve that feat since Dortmund's Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did so in February 2015.

 

Harry Kane scored his 40th Bayern Munich goal of the season in a 5-1 Bundesliga thumping of Union Berlin.

After reaching the Champions League semi-finals in midweek, Bayern took a step towards securing second place in the league with an emphatic victory.

Leon Goretzka opened the scoring and Kane curled in a free-kick just before half-time to take his league-leading tally to 33.

Thomas Muller scored twice in the second half, either side of a goal from Mathys Tel, with Union limited to a late consolation effort from Yorbe Vertessen.

Fourth-placed RB Leipzig needed a late winner from Lois Openda to claim a 2-1 victory at Heidenheim.

Benjamin Sesko put the visitors ahead late in the first half but Nikola Dovedan levelled before Openda secured the points five minutes from time.

Robin Hack’s hat-trick was not enough to prevent Borussia Monchengladbach from falling to a 4-3 defeat at Hoffenheim.

Hack thought he had earned a point for the visitors when he scored twice late on after Hoffenheim had taken a 3-1 lead with goals from Wout Weghorst, Grischa Promel and Ozan Kabak.

But Anton Stach found the winner for the home side in the first minute of injury time.

Koln’s hopes of survival were dealt a major blow by a 2-0 loss to bottom side Darmstadt, who appear doomed to relegation, while Bochum remain in trouble after a 1-0 loss to Wolfsburg.

Girona’s 4-1 victory over relegation-threatened Cadiz in LaLiga ensured they will be playing European football next season.

Early goals from Eric Garcia and Ivan Martin set the tone, with Artem Dovbyk and Portu making sure of the points in the second half.

Real Betis boosted their hopes of joining Girona with a 2-1 victory away at Valencia.

Ayoze Perez scored twice for the visitors – who sit eighth, two points behind Real Sociedad – either side of a Pepelu penalty.

Celta Vigo went behind at home to Las Palmas but responded brilliantly to claim a 4-1 victory that lifts them six points clear of the bottom three.

Juanma Herzog opened the scoring but Iago Aspas netted twice for Celta along with one each from Williot Swedberg and Anastasios Douvikas.

Rayo Vallecano also eased their relegation fears, Pep Chavarria and Isi Palazon scoring in the final 10 minutes in a 2-1 win over Osasuna.

In Serie A, struggling Empoli stunned defending champions Napoli 1-0, Alberto Cerri scoring the only goal in the fourth minute.

The big match at the bottom had a dramatic finish as Diego Coppola struck in injury time to earn Verona a 1-0 win over Udinese.

Rennes kept alive their hopes of sneaking into the European places in Ligue 1 by beating lowly Nantes 3-0 but they remain four points behind Lens, who defeated bottom side Clermont 1-0 thanks to an early penalty from Florian Sotoca.

What the papers say

Arsenal’s quest to find a new striker has been whittled down to a 10-man shortlist, according to the Daily Mirror. Among those being watched by the Gunners are RB Leipzig’s Slovenian Benjamin Sesko, 20, Sporting’s Viktor Gyokeres, 25, and his fellow Sweden international Alexander Isak, 24, at Newcastle.

Another Arsenal target may be out of reach, reports the Daily Express. They have been tracking Dutch winger Xavi Simons, 20, but his parent club Paris St-Germain are keen to give him game time after a loan spell at RB Leipzig.

Liverpool forward Luis Diaz, 27, is still hopeful of a move to Spain. The Daily Mail reports on the Colombia international’s father saying he remains keen on a move to one of La Liga’s top clubs.

Manchester United have strengthening their defence as their main summer priority, according to The Daily Telegraph. Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite, 21, is high on their list of targets.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Bruno Guimaraes: Spanish outlet Fichajes says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is “obsessed” by the Newcastle midfielder, 26, who would cost around £85million.

Lucas Paqueta: West Ham expect Manchester City to make another bid for the Brazil midfielder, 26, according to Football Insider.

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.

Ten-man Northern Ireland returned to the all-too-familiar feeling of defeat as Adam Cerin’s early free-kick put Group H leaders Slovenia on the verge of qualifying for Euro 2024 with a scrappy 1-0 win at Windsor Park.

Saturday’s 3-0 victory over minnows San Marino ended Northern Ireland’s five-game losing streak but it proved only a temporary reprieve in an injury-ravaged qualifying campaign which has now seen Michael O’Neill’s side suffer five 1-0 defeats in eight games.

The defining moment of the match came early on. While there was no doubt about the quality of Adam Cerin’s fifth-minute free-kick, Northern Ireland were fuming at referee Istvan Kovacs’ decision to award it after Jamal Lewis barely clipped Benjamin Sesko on the edge of the box.

Shea Charles was booked for dissent and that proved costly just before the hour mark when the Southampton midfielder went in late on Andraz Sporar and was sent off, the first blemish on the 19-year-old’s impressive start in international football.

Charles has started every game of this campaign but will now miss November’s trip to Finland, another headache for O’Neill, who was forced into further changes here with Dan Ballard out with a thigh problem and Paddy McNair suspended following his late yellow card on Saturday.

The manager responded with bold choices, handing debuts to Bolton defender Eoin Toal and Kilmarnock midfielder Brad Lyons, the 30th and 31st players to be used in eight qualifiers so far, despite more experienced options on the bench.

The atmosphere inside a below-capacity Windsor Park was already flat at the start with but it fell silent after Cerin’s goal, the fans not even having the energy to resume the anti-Casement Park chanting heard before kick-off. As the night wore on, a sense of injustice would rouse the fans.

Northern Ireland responded quickly when Slovenia scored early in Ljubljana last month, a 4-2 defeat, but struggled to threaten here. Paul Smyth, the star of the show on Saturday, found little joy on the right. On the left Lewis had more joy in finding space but lacked the quality of cross required.

Although limited going forward, Northern Ireland were at least ensuring Slovenia’s powerful strike force had few sights of Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s goal.

After one rare attack, Slovenia appeared to have been gifted a second just after the half hour. Trai Hume’s poor headed clearance went straight to Jan Mlakar and Toal got it all wrong trying to cut out his low cross, allowing Sesko to thump home from close range.

However, the visitors’ celebrations were cut short after the referee checked the replay, deeming Sporar to be interfering from an offside position.

O’Neill sent on Washington for Josh Magennis at the break and was planning further changes a little over 10 minutes in before Charles saw red, forcing a rethink.

Conor McMenamin, amongst the goals on Saturday, had been due to come on but instead it was George Saville, Dion Charles and Isaac Price who entered the fray in a triple change.

The substitutes combined for Northern Ireland’s best move in the 69th minute as Price drove down the right, exchanged passes with Washington and then pulled the ball back for Saville but the midfielder, yet to score for Northern Ireland after 49 appearances, did not get enough power on his shot.

There was a let-off in the 72nd minute when Mlakar found space in front of goal but got the contact on his shot all wrong, while at the other end Dion Charles blazed harmlessly wide.

Northern Ireland still pushed forward but another flowing move ended with Saville shooting straight at Oblak and other attacks were thwarted by the over-officious Kovacs.

Captain Jonny Evans, who had treatment on an ankle injury in the first half, ended the game limping heavily after another strong impact when challenging for a corner.

Michael O’Neill admitted poor defending cost Northern Ireland dear in a damaging 4-2 defeat to Slovenia but it was another game of fine margins in Ljubljana.

Northern Ireland ended the night having created more chances than their hosts but on the wrong end of the scoreline as they struggled to contain Slovenia’s strike pairing of Benjamin Sesko and Andraz Sporar.

Isaac Price’s first international goal had cancelled out Sporar’s third-minute strike but all too quickly Northern Ireland were behind again when Petar Stojanovic’s strike deflected off Jonny Evans in the 17th minute, with Sesko giving Slovenia breathing space before the break.

Although Evans got O’Neill’s side back into it in the 53rd minute, almost immediately Sporar settled it to deliver what is surely a fatal blow to Northern Ireland’s hopes of progressing from Group H as they lost for a fourth straight match.

But although they conceded four, O’Neill could be happy with the attacking intent showed by his side, with Conor McMenamin carrying the threat after getting the nod on the right wing.

“It was a game full of incident clearly, six goals,” O’Neill said. “I thought we played very well in the game. We defended poorly at times, we struggled to deal with Sesko and Sporar who we knew would be the biggest threat and they proved to be that.

“But we did a lot of good things in the game. Some of the attacking play was very very good, we created a lot of chances and that was the best attacking play we’ve had in the campaign so far. Playing with two wingers helped us with the chances we created.

“The most disappointing thing in the game is how we managed the period in the game from 1-1 to 2-1, I think that was the period where we needed to be stable and we weren’t. Also from 3-2 to 4-2, we conceded too early after the game went to 3-2.

“We were trying to find a way back in the last 15 minutes and asked some questions and again the goalkeeper makes two or three good saves. It was an open game. I was disappointed to lose the game but pleased with a lot of aspects, some of the younger players were terrific.”

There were late chances for McMenamin and substitutes Josh Magennis and Paul Smyth, but although Northern Ireland had more possession and more chances than their hosts, they lacked the sort of firepower offered by RB Leipzig’s Sesko and Sporar of Panathinaikos.

After coming out on the wrong end of three consecutive 1-0 defeats, this was a very different result, but a similar story of Northern Ireland not being outplayed.

“The biggest difference in the game was probably the front two,” O’Neill said. “It’s a big part of the team. I don’t think we saw a lot between the teams on the night but they were clinical.

“Both Sorpar and Sesko were a threat all night. Some of our players were excellent as well and the chances we created, we’re probably disappointed we only scored twice in the game. We have to accept the defeat and move on.”

McMenamin was the brightest spark, with the 28-year-old showing the confidence gained from his summer move from Glentoran to St Mirren.

“Conor had a great game, he was very, very positive from the outset,” O’Neill said. “He’s a player who has come late to international football, late to professional football.

“In the summer he got his first move into the Scottish Premiership and I think he’s made great strides in the space of six to eight weeks he’s been in the there so there’s a lot more in Conor.”

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