Europa League: RB Leipzig on course for playoffs with win over Craiova | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 09.08.2018
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Europa League: RB Leipzig on course for playoffs with win over Craiova

Leipzig picked up another home victory in Europa League qualifying, beating their Romanian opposition 3-1. Ibrahima Konate bagged his first goal for the Red Bulls and Matheus Cunha got back on the score sheet.

RB Leipzig 3-1 Craiova
(Konate 25', Cunha 77', Poulsen 88' — Martic 90+3')

Facing an ultra defensive Craoiva in scorching heat, Leipzig came away with another home victory in Europa League qualification on Thursday.

Ibrahima Konate, Matheus Cunha and Yusuf Poulsen got on the score sheet for the Red Bulls, who registered 11 shots on target in the contest. But Ivan Martic gave the Romanian guests a glimmer of hope with a goal on the last kick of the game.

With the heat registered at 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) at kickoff, Leipzig took control of the game with quick one-touch passing, but struggled to convert their chances early their very defensive Romanian opposition. But the up-and-coming eastern German side showed their quality in the second half to secure the victory.

Ibrahima Konate (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Woitas)

Ibrahima Konate picked up his first goal in a Leipzig shirt

Class from Konate

Konate was not always dependable in his first season with Leipzig after joining from Ligue 1 side Sochaux last year. However, with Dayot Upamecano sidelined, the French teenager has made the most of his chance in Europa League qualifying.

Though he has been overeager and undisciplined at times, Konate has rewarded head coach Ralf Rangnick's faith. Making his third straight start, the 19-year-old scored his first ever goal in a Leipzig shirt in the 25th minute.

It was a spectacular effort too. Kevin Kampl put in a corner from the left and Konate powered a header in off the crossbar to put the hosts in front.

Bench support

His strike was more necessary for Leipzig than it probably should have been. The Red Bulls wasted numerous scoring chances in the first half as several players failed to find the target when they received the ball in dangerous areas.

But Rangnick's side was much more clinical in the second half, forcing several saves out of Craoiva keeper Mirko Pigliacelli. Konate had a chance to double his side's lead in the 70th minute, but he mishit a deflected ball in the six-yard box and Pigliacelli made the save.

Leipzig bench (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Woitas)

Marcel Sabitzer (second from left), Yusuf Poulsen (second from right) and Emil Forsberg (right) made a difference off the bench.

Rangnick brought on his established players Marcel Sabitzer, Emil Forsberg and Yusuf Poulsen to put the game away. Sabitzer set up Matheus Cunha for a sliding strike to double Leipzig's lead. Forsberg then fired a free kick off of Pigliacelli before Poulsen tapped the deflection home.

But substitutes also combined for Craiova to end the game on a sour note fore the hosts. Raoul Petre Baicu ran into space on the left wing and put in a cross, one that Ivan Martic, on Craiova's second shot of the game, fired first-time inside the left post. 

The two sides face off in the second leg of their tie in Craiova's Oblemenco Stadium next Thursday.

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