There’s still another game of football to be played, but it’s advantage Leipzig after one.
Red Bull Leipzig came into North London on Wednesday and won 1-0 over Spurs in the first leg of the Champions League clash between these two clubs. Timo Werner’s penalty was the decisive goal on a night that leaves Tottenham with a bit of a hill to climb.
Julian Nagelsmann’s group proved to be no slouches, despite their relative lack of experience compared to some of Tottenham’s players.
Jose Mourinho’s team selection was significantly affected by the recent injury suffered by Son Heung-Min. Son will be out for a number of weeks due to a fracture in his arm that he sustained against Aston Villa.
With no Son, and with Harry Kane still unavailable due to his long term injury, Spurs opted to start Lucas Moura up front, with Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn alongside. The biggest surprise was in the midfield, where Gedson Fernandes started with Harry Winks and Giovani Lo Celso. Tanguy Ndombele began the match on the bench.
As they’re known to do, the visitors were pressing and causing danger in the game’s opening moments. Patrick Schick had a chance that went just wide, and then Angelino hit the post a moment later.
It was an incredibly hectic start. Mourinho could be seen on the sidelines imploring his side to calm down, and they did, to some degree.
Spurs’ had a great chance just after Leipzig’s early opportunities. Bergwijn cut back in the box after being played in by Lo Celso, but Peter Gulacsi made a fingertip save.
The game plan soon became quite clear. The Tottenham manager had set the team out to play on the counter attack. Leipzig was allowed to dominate possession, but at times Spurs couldn’t even get a foot in. Julian Nageslmann’s side had 10 shots in the game’s opening 20 minutes.
Schick, who was linked to Spurs a few years ago, almost scored in the 17th minute, but his header from a corner went just wide of the post.
Tottenham was up against it a little bit. Leipzig kept the crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium relatively quiet, but there were some chances on the break.
Lo Celso produced an incredible run, down the left side of the pitch, that started all the way back at his own box. Bergwijn received a pass from the Argentinian, but his turn couldn’t create enough space to avoid the blocked shot.
As they would have wanted, the best chance of the half for the visitors fell for their best player. Werner found himself in on goal, but he took too much time and his effort was stopped by Hugo Lloris.
Both teams likely felt some encouragement at the break. Leipzig looked confident in the first half, but Spurs still kept things scoreless.
Tottenham caused some trouble in the initial moments of the second half. Serge Aurier delivered a dangerous ball into the box that came off a defender, but Gulacsi slapped it away. Bergwijn’s rebound was into the ground and over the bar.
After a lull in the contest, Leipzig broke through thanks to a mistake from a Spurs defender. Ben Davies couldn’t deal with Konrad Leimer’s burst into the box, and he brought the Austrian down with his right leg. Werner converted the penalty.
It was almost two for the Red Bulls just a few minutes later. A beautiful dummy on a break allowed Schick a clear sight of goal, but Lloris saved the day with another save at close range.
In an effort to change the game, Mourinho went for a double substitution. Dele and Gedson were replaced by Ndombele and Erik Lamela. Dele was not happy about being subbed.
The desperation from Spurs increased with the new players who had been introduced. After getting fouled just outside the box, Lo Celso almost brought the Lilywhites level. Gulacsi made a stunning save to just tip the effort onto the post.
Just five minutes before the end of normal time, Lamela also tested Gulacsi with a free kick. Again, the Hungarian got over quickly to tap the shot past the post.
Now it was Leipzig’s turn to pack things in on the defensive end. A cross got over Marcel Halstenberg, but Lucas’ header was above the bar.
It just wasn’t to be on the night for Spurs. The visitors did well enough in the game’s opening 60 minutes to take the lead into next month’s second leg in Germany. Their away goal could prove to be crucial.
Now Spurs will have to turn their attention back to the Premier League. Saturday brings a massive fixture against Chelsea with big implications in the race for next year’s Champions League.