The visiting Austrians came out on top, upsetting their German "cousins" in what wasn't always a high-quality affair in Leipzig. Leverkusen came back from two goals down in Bulgaria to take home all three points.
RB Leipzig 2–3 FC Salzburg
(Laimer 70', Poulsen 82' – Dabbur 20', Haidara 22', Gulbrandsen 89')
Red Bull Salzburg paid a visit to RB Leipzig on Thursday, their first-ever encounter in European play, a matchup of two teams who are both sponsored by the energy drink maker Red Bull — something that has led some in Germany to dub this one theDosen-Derby, in reference to the cans (Dosen) the drinks are sold in. However, under UEFA rules, Red Bull Salzburg have been renamed FC Salzburg for European competition. Leipzig required no such change, as RB actually stands for Rasenballsport.
RB Leipzig came into this one hoping to get things going after a disappointing start to the season, and given the amount of talent at Ralf Rangnick's disposal and the gap in quality between their respective leagues, the German outfit were the favorites.
Salzburg strike first
Leipzig's performance in the first half suggested otherwise, though. Their Austrian cousins went at them early and in only took 20 minutes to reap their first reward. Munas Dabbur ran through after Dayot Umpecano's attempt to knock it away forced goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo into a save, but the ball deflected kindly for the Israeli striker, who headed the ball into the ground and it bounced up into the Leipzig goal.
With the RB Leipzig defense looking stunned, Salzburg got another just three minutes later. Andreas Ulmer beat the offside trap and got down the left side before firing a ball through the box that found Amadou Haidara. The midfielder from Mali made no mistake on the easy tap-in.
Three changes at the half
Down by two at the half, and with his team not looking like mounting a comeback, Ralf Rangnick elected to use all three of his subs. On came Yussuf Poulsen, Marcel Halstenberg (coming off a long absence due to injury) and Diego Demme for Jean-Kevin Augustin, Nordi Mukiele and Bruma.
Still Leipzig didn't find their way into the game the way Rangnick would have liked, but a stroke of luck in the form of a Salzburg mistake helped them pull one back. A long looping pass from the left meant for Konrad Laimer fell short and Ulmer chested it down – but it got away from him and Laimer swooped in and finished low into the far corner to give Leipzig new life.
As so often is the case, a goal that essentially came out of nothing changed everything. Leipzig suddenly rediscovered their confidence and it paid off with a beautifully played out goal. Halstenberg played the ball to Kevin Kampl, who then dropped a perfect cross into the area for Poulsen to head home for the equalizer.
A late twist of fate
With Leipzig looking favorites to grab a winner, Salzburg produced a goal completely against the run of play. Former Werder Bremen midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic, who had been subbed on just minutes earlier, kept alive a ball played into the Leipzig end with a cheeky back heel, Hannes Wolf played it through to an open Fredrik Gulbrandsen (also fresh off the bench) who kept his cool to beat Mvogo. Salzburg would survive a late Leipzig flurry to steal all three points from this first edition of the Dosen-Derby.
Ludogorets 2-3 Leverkusen
(Keseru 8', Marcelinho 31' - Havertz 38', 70', Kiese Thelin 64')
Seeking respite from the poor start to their domestic season, Leverkusen found some in Bulgaria as they came from two goals down to win the opening game of their Europa League campaign. A poor first half was followed by a resurgent second with Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt dragging Leverkusen across the line.
Paulinho and Swedish striker Isaac Kiese Thelin made their first starts, but Leverkusen were slow to start and paid for it.
Claudiu Keseru whipped a brilliant free kick in at the near post early on to give Ludogorets the lead and although Leverkusen grew into the game, they struggled to really take control. This left the door open for the hosts and they outpaced and outtricked their German opponents down the left to get in behind Leverkusen's defense. Wanderson then laid a simple ball across the area for Marcelinho to slot home.
Havertz to the rescue
Reeling, Leverkusen needed inspiration, and their teenage talent Kai Havertz provided it. The 19-year-old's smashed in a long-range effort to reduce the deficit at the break.
Heiko Herrlich, a man acutely aware of the pressure on him even before this game, cut a concerned figure on the sidelines. He threw on Kevin Volland (for Paulinho) and hoped for a reaction. It came when Julian Brandt's cross was spilled and Kiese Thelin poked home the rebound as Brandt and Havertz were finally given some support in a game they largely carried Leverkusen through.
Havertz proved just how much when his quick feet worked himself some space and he curled an effort home to complete Leverkusen's comeback. Ludogorets sent a header off the post and Kiese Thelin nearly added a second in an entertaining finish, but for once the scoreline remained unchanged.