Manchester City came from behind to beat RB Leipzig to top their UEFA Champions League group on Tuesday evening.
Matchday five of the ongoing 2023/24 group stage represented a chance for either team to try and go for top spot, and as such the game expectedly began cagey. After just over ten minutes, it was the visitors who took an unexpected lead through Lois Openda.
Manchester City tried to respond immediately, but found no luck despite having large amounts of possession and instead the players saw chances go begging. For a second time on the night, Openda and Leipzig shocked all inside the Etihad Stadium with a second goal.
The Belgian forward left Ruben Dias for dead on the side-line, following up on his defeating of Manuel Akanji for the first goal, before performing a dummy on Josko Gvardiol inside the box and shooting past Stefan Ortega.
Pep Guardiola’s half-time team talk must have had some Pep to it, mind the pun, as the Citizens came out firing in the second half. Erling Haaland latched onto a clever through ball from Phil Foden and fired home past Janis Blaswich to restore hope.
Substitute Fabio Carvalho thought he had scored against Manchester City again having previously notched for Liverpool and Fulham, but his strike was ruled offside minutes after coming on.
Phil Foden would then go on to equalise for the hosts, before he combined with Jeremy Doku, allowing for the ball to fall to Julian Alvarez’s feet. The Argentine substitute made no mistake and emphatically shot the Premier League champions into the lead for the first time on the night and subsequently gave them the win.
Here are Five Things We Learned from Manchester City’s fightback against RB Leipzig, and their claiming of top spot in their UEFA Champions League group!
City in cruise control
Manchester City headed into Tuesday night’s group stage clash with not all that much to play for and that showed out on the pitch. The team rarely looked threatening in the first half throughout and had a certain lacklustre edge about them which helped Leipzig capitalise.
Both of the first two goals were created through lazy play from the City backline with Manuel Akanji caught ball watching for Lois Openda to give the German side the lead.
Of course, Pep Guardiola’s side showed more attacking intent in the second-half of the game but it will definitely worry the Catalan coach with how nonplussed the team were prior to the half-time interval.
Group stage curse over?
Despite qualifying for Europe’s premier competition every season since 2011/12, Manchester City have never gotten the perfect group stage.
Having reached the semi-finals on multiple occasions and even winning the UEFA Champions League earlier this year, Pep Guardiola’s side never win every group stage game. City looked to once again fall short on Tuesday night as they crumbled to a dismal deficit against the visiting RB Leipzig in the first half.
Yet, unlike previous years in group stage games come November and December, Manchester City fought and fought hard ensuring that the 100% record was maintained with just one more game to go.
Comeback kings once more
It is no secret that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side love a comeback having managed to turn losing games into wins throughout the Catalan’s tenure. The Citizens found themselves looking down the not all too familiar barrel of defeat on Tuesday having conceded a Luis Openda brace.
Manchester City’s response was far more familiar though given they dug in deep to fight back and change an adverse score line once again. Lifelong supporters Erling Haaland and Phil Foden understand the club to a higher level and certainly showed it by hauling their side back into contention on the night.
No matter how dire the situation they find themselves in, you simply can never rule out this all-conquering Manchester City squad, especially under the leadership and excellence of Pep Guardiola.
Manchester City definitely put in a Jekyll and Hyde performance on Tuesday night showing both their ugly side as well as their class. In what was a tale of two halves, Pep Guardiola’s side started the European clash off sloppily, misplacing passes and giving away goals.
Something needed to change at half-time and change it did following some excellent management from the coach extraordinaire, Pep Guardiola. The inspired substitutions spelt the introduction of Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez, who both played a major part in turning the score around completely.
As he has done on many an occasion, Pep Guardiola’s tactical mind helped change his team’s fortunes and, as a result, top the Champions League group.
Haaland loves Leipzig
RB Leipzig must be sick of the sight of Erling Haaland having faced the striker and conceded to him on multiple occasions. He scored four times during his spell in Germany with Borussia Dortmund before bringing the tormenting to a new level by scoring five goals past them last season at the Etihad.
Despite missing several first-half opportunities, the big Norwegian came out of the blocks in the second half and fired his side back into the game. Regardless of the sloppy play to start with, Haaland’s inevitability is a real string to Manchester City’s attacking bow.
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