Leipzig's debut season in Europe took another impressive turn as they defeated Marseille in the Europa League quarterfinal first leg on Thursday night. Timo Werner's first-half strike proved decisive in the 1-0 victory.
RB Leipzig 1-0 Marseille
Leipzig's first campaign in Europe is ageing like a fine Rhine wine.
After a shaky debut foray in the Champions League saw them demoted to the Europa League, Ralph Hasenhüttl's side is starting to find their feet in continental competition.
In this first leg against Marseille, Hasenhüttl was forced to play an inexperienced backline with Dayot Upamecano, 19, and Ibrahima Konate, 18, partnering in central defense. They performed admirably in the absence of captain Willy Orban, limiting Marseille largely to half-chances and keeping them at bay over 90 minutes to record Leipzig's first cleansheet in Europe.
In attack, Leipzig's pace proved decisive. After Peter Gulacsi was forced into two quick saves just before half-time, Emil Forsberg launched a trademark lightning counter-attack. Timo Werner did the rest.
The Germany international burst through on the right, cut inside, and fired a powerful low effort towards goal, which squeezed under the legs of opposing keeper Pele, who should have kept it out.
In the second half, both teams traded attacks as the game opened up into a back-and-forth affair. But there were to be no more goals, Leipzig taking a 1-0 advantage into the second leg next week.
Having disposed of one of the tournament favorites Napoli in some style, before navigating a tricky tie against Zenit St Petersburg, Leipzig's latest result against a Marseille side full of both flair and discipline is the latest in a progressive string of performances.
The team is no longer the gung-ho, high octane outfit that took the Bundesliga by storm last season, having been forced to tone down their intensity to deal with an increased workload.
But the high-pressing, slick counter-attack system is still in place and Hasenhüttl is learning how to utilise his squad on two fronts.
A tricky tie in Marseille awaits, but Leipzig and Hasenhüttl have grown into their new surrounds in impressive style and will be confident of finishing the job in southern France.
As it happened:
90'+3 FT Leipzig 1-0 Marseille — It's all over and Leipzig will take a slender advantage to the south coast of France. It's a narrow lead, but crucially they've stopped Marseille getting an away goal.
90' Keita goes for goal from the halfway line! Pele is out of his goal from the previous corner and Keita sees this and goes for it — but it's a terrible effort from the midfielder and the ball doesn't even reach the goal-line.
86' Marseille win a corner and throw everyone forward. The ball pops up for a second but Luiz Gustavo fires it into a crowd of bodies and Leipzig hack it clear.
83' Sabitzer replaces Forsberg, who has been influential for the hosts tonight.
79' 1-0 would be a nice result for Leipzig, who have never kept a clean sheet in Europe (this is their debut season though). But Marseille will fancy themselves to overturn the deficit at the Stade Velodrome next week. in the balance.
76' Will Leipzig live to regret that?
75' Werner chance! Oh, that was the chance for the second! Werner is sent clean through but takes a poor touch that allows Pele to steady himself, and Werner's first shot is gathered by the keeper and his second effort is sliced woefully high and wide.
72' Marseille are still seeing more of the ball but are leaving gaps at the back. You feel Leipzig could exploit them on the break if they're not careful.
69' The early intensity of the second half has ebbed away as both sides seem increasingly satisfied with the game finishing 1-0.
66' Kampl is on for Augustin.
63' Marseille controlling the game now. Leipzig might need a change of personnel here to freshen things up.
60' Marseille have got smart to Leipzig's threat and are causing the Bundesliga more problems here. But thus far Leipzig's defense is holding firm.
57' Close! Leipzig give Payet too much room on the edge of the box and he goes for goal, but it is rising just over the bar, and Gulacsi — and Leipzig — breathe again.
54' Marseille look a bit shaken by Leipzig's fast start to the second period.
51' Leipzig pushing hard here. Werner tries to pick out Augustin with a cutback from the left but Pele comes out and intercepts.
48' Leipzig have started the second half well. Under clear instructions from Hasenhüttl to push for a second immediately. 1-0 would be a rather precarious scoreline to take to Marseille.
46' We're back underway in Leipzig.
HT Leipzig 1-0 Marseille — That's it for the half. Leipzig scoring at the perfect time.
45'+1 GOAL! Leipzig 1-0 Marseille — Werner scores! It's a fine breakaway goal by Leipzig, who burst forward from their own box and feed the ball out to Werner on the right, who cuts inside and fires a low shot under Pele. The keeper has made a howler there, the ball has squeezed under him.
45' Marseille peppering the Leipzig goal here! Gulacsi twice called into action inside a minute.
43' Half time is fast-approaching and you have to say Marseille have had the better chances.
40' Off the bar! The closest chance so far falls to Marseille! A cross from the left is headed out by Konate but only as far as Sarr, whose acrobatic volley comes back off the top of the bar, with Gulacsi beaten. A let-off for Leipzig.
36' Missed opportunity for Leipzig! Keita drives forward with the Marseille defence on the back foot. He goes left when he should have gone right, with Werner in acres of space. The move breaks down and, not for the first time tonight, Werner is frustrated with his teammates.
33' A lull.
30' Ralph Hasenhüttl will be pleased with his side's performance so far. They've kept Marseille at bay for much of the half and created a few openings of their own.
27' Keita is dragged back and Forsberg goes for goal with the resulting free-kick, but it's a shade over the bar.
24' Werner drives over the halfway line and looks for the run of Augustin, but Werner#s pass is tame and Marseille are able to bring it forward.
22' After a somewhat uncertain start, Leipzig are making all the running now.
19' Konate leaps high to reach Forsberg's corner from the left but he nods just wide. He has his head in his hands, perplexed that he didn't get that on target.
16' Bruma hits the deck in the box and pleads for a penalty. Nothing given, and rightly so.
14' Leipzig feeling their way into the contest now. Bruma with a couple of dribbles forward, but Marseille dealing with him at the moment.
11' A bit of back and forth and some heavy challenges going in. This is not the free-flowing spectacle we'd hoped for.
9' Marseille chance! Payet's early cross from the right is nudged on by Mitroglu and Gulacsi makes a fine one-handed reaction save to keep it out. An early warning for Leipzig there.
6' Keita drives forward and tries to slip a pass through to Werner, who had made a good run, but Augustin thought the ball was for him and killed the move. Much to Werner's frustration.
3' Marseille have started well, pushing Leipzig back and forcing them into some early defending here.
1' KICK OFF! Leipzig get us underway.
20.55 And the visitors' starting XI...
20.50 Here's how Leipzig line up...
20.45 CET Welcome to live coverage of tonight's Europa League clash between RB Leipzig and Marseille! It's fourth in the Bundesliga versus third in Ligue 1. Team news to follow...