Eleven years after their formation, RB Leipzig have reached the semifinals of the Champions League for the first time. Substitute Tyler Adams scored the late winner to set up a date with Paris Saint-Germain.
RB Leipzig 2-1 Atletico Madrid, Estadio Jose Alvalade
(Olmo 50', Adams 87' — Joao Felix pen 71')
It would be fair to say the RB Leipzig project is ahead of schedule. Formed a little over a decade ago, they’re yet to win any major silverware. But that could be about to change as they moved a step closer to the Champions League final with victory over experienced European campaigners Atletico Madrid.
Julian Nagelsmann had spoken of an opportunity for someone to step up and fill the void left by Timo Werner, whose absence had cast a shadow over Leipzig’s preparations for one of the biggest games in their short history. Even Nagelsmann wouldn’t have expected that man to be Tyler Adams.
The young American had never scored for Leipzig but he chose a fine occasion to get his first, drilling in a deflected shot that wrong footed Jan Oblak in the Atletico goal. Adams' brief had been to nullify the threat posed by Joao Felix, whose second half introduction had tilted the game in the Spaniards‘ favor. Adams not only hushed Felix, but scored the winner.
Adams may have stolen the headlines but Leipzig’s performance was a brilliant collective effort. While Atletico paid the price for a negative approach and a mindset of getting under Leipzig’s skin rather than putting in a performance, Leipzig kept their cool and were deserving winners.
Dayot Upamecano never put a foot wrong, Marcel Sabitzer was lively and probed the Atletico defense constantly, and Dani Olmo scored the most important goal of his career, putting Leipzig ahead early in the second half with an assured glancing header from Sabitzer’s cross.
Joao Felix came off the bench and sprung Atletico into life, winning and scoring a penalty after Lukas Klostermann had chopped him down. But Leipzig kept to Nagelsmann‘s gameplan and showed calmness in the face of adversity for the biggest win in their short history. Next up for Nagelsmann is a meeting with PSG, coached by a certain Thomas Tuchel. Leipzig shouldn’t be underestimated.
As it happened:
90'+6 FULLTIME: RB Leipzig 2-1 Atletico Madrid — It's all over! RB Leipzig reach the final four of the Champions League for the first time in their history and will face Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. Tyler Adams is the hero and Julian Nagelsmann has done it. What a night for the Germans.
90'+3 Leipzig hanging on by the skin of their teeth as a series of last ditch challenges keeps them in it. They're almost there...
90' Atletico throwing everything at Leipzig but the German side holding firm. Just a few minutes for Leipzig to hold on.
88' GOAL! RB Leipzig 2-1 Atletico Madrid — Adams scores! The American may have won it for Leipzig! The ball comes out to Adams on the edge of the box and his strike deflects off Savic and wrong foots Oblak. Leipzig are a few minutes away from the semis!
83' Haidara already in the book for a trip on Llorente. It's a harsh one but the referee caves with half of the Atletico team and their coach screaming for a yellow.
80' Kevin Kampl picks up a yellow as Nkunku and the Leipzig goalscorer Olmo are substituted. Shick and Haidara come on.
75' Tyler Adams is stalking Joao Felix and has obviously been told to do a job on the young forward, who has changed the complexion of this Champions League quarterfinal.
72' Diego Simeone was lining up a double change before the equalizer but has re-thought that one and just thrown on Morata for Diego Costa. Leipzig send on Tyler Adams for Laimer.
71' GOAL! RB Leipzig 1-1 Atletico Madrid — Felix scores! Gulacsi goes the right way, but there's too much power on the sweetly struck spot-kick which nestles neatly in the corner. The substitute has changed the game here — Atletico back in it!
69' PENALTY TO ATLETICO — Joao Felix is sent clean through with only Klostermann for company, and the desperate Klostermann brings down Joao Felix in the box, and it's a clear penalty.
67' Chance for Leipzig but Laimer overcooks his cross for Olmo.
64' Diego Costa catches Upamecano very late with an absolutely needless foul that goes unpunished by the referee. That's the first time Costa has emerged from Upamecano's pocket all night.
61' Yellow card for Lodi for a dive in the box to win a penalty. He dived over Upamecano like an Olympic swimmer, but the Leipzig man had pulled out of the challenge, making Lodi look a little foolish.
59' It's a wasted opportunity by Leipzig as Angelino finds himself in acres of space but his cutback to Nkunku on the edge of the box is lazy and the pass goes astray.
56' Simeone reacts to Atletico going behind by throwing on the young striker Joao Felix, who is back in the city where he made his name. Herrera makes way, so a change of formation to 4-4-2 for Atletico.
52' At the other end Llorente gets into a good position in the box, but is just eased off the ball by Upamecano, who has a significant physical advantage over Llorente. Upamecano has been superb so far tonight.
51' That's a huge goal that the game needed and of course one that Leipzig had been craving, and have just about deserved.
50' GOAL! RB Leipzig 1-0 Atletico Madrid — Olmo for Leipzig! The deadlock has been broken and it's a Spaniard against the Spaniards. Laimer works it out to Sabitzer on the right, and Olmo pops up in the box to send a glancing header beyond Oblak.
46' SECOND HALF — We're back underway.
45' HALFTIME — RB Leipzig 0-0 Atletico Madrid: All square at the break and it's not a classic. Plenty of chances created by Leipzig but none of them good enough to unduly concern Atletico. The best chance has actually fallen to Carrasco, who was denied by Gulacsi.
45' Chance for Leipzig as Upamecano meets Angelino's cross but sends his header straight at Oblak. There was also a push by Upamecano on Trippier as the ball came in.
43' Almost halftime and it's tempting to say that Leipzig would be ahead if Werner was in the team. Plenty of chances created, but a lack of composure or quality in the final third.
41' Chance for Leipzig. Again, Angelino is the creator-in-chief with a fine ball into the box. It eventually comes to Laimer, but he can't get enough on his header to trouble Oblak.
39' Upamecano takes all of the ball and some of Llorente. Unsurprisingly, Simeone is calling for a free-kick but obviously it isn't, and Atletico have to make do with a corner. A corner that Leipzig deal with.
36' Savic and Halstenberg go up for a high ball and, unaware of each other and with high fixed on the ball, smash heads at high speed. Blood everywhere, particularly coming off the head of Savic, who is being wrapped up. A really concerning clash.
33' Niguez and Sabitzer come together and the Spaniard is penalised before Olmo shoves Lodi off the ball. Both incidents raise the temperature here a little, and Simeone is predictably in the ear of anyone he can find.
25' Nkunku and Angelino combine but the latter's cross is just too strong for the waiting Leipzig players in the Atletico box. Leipzig just managing to exploit some space between Trippier and Savic in the Atletico backline.
23' Chance for Leipzig crafted by Angelino's superb cross, but Poulsen is penalised for a push on Gimenez.
21' Lovely move again by Leipzig as Nkunku looks to slip in Angelino, who had once again taken up a great position down the left hand side, but Trippier was once again alert to the danger.
17' Leipzig looking the more intricate and considered in attack of the two sides. But Atletico are characteristically defiant again, reducing Kevin Kampl to a long range effort that sails way over.
14' Saul Niguez goes down in the box and is claiming a penalty after a small contact with Gulacsi's foot. Diego Simeone calls for a VAR check and he gets his wish, but after a lengthy check as play continues, nothing is given by the team of Polish officials.
13' Lodi rolls the ball into the path of Carrasco, who was motoring into space in the box but his first-time shot is clawed out by Gulacsi. Atletico starting to get into good positions.
12' Chance again for Leipzig as Angelino gets forward but his first-time cross is blocked by Trippier. Leipzig had Atletico on the back foot again.
10' Lodi swings a good ball into the box and Savic is up there to plant a strong header at the Leipzig goal, but Gulacsi reaches up to catch it and keep it out.
6' It's been a good start by Leipzig. Atletico yet to really settle and it's Leipzig looking the more fluid in attack at the moment. But Atletico often take their time getting started.
3' A first opportunity for Leipzig as Sabitzer spreads it to Angelino on the left, and he forces an early Leipzig corner, but it's headed out by Gimenez. Leipzig come again though and the ball falls to Halstenburg, but the full-back skies ihis shot from close range.
1' KICK OFF — We're underway!
20.50 A date with Paris
A reminder that the winner of tonight's bout will face Paris Saint-Germain in the semifinals. One thing is for sure: whoever reaches the final from this side of the draw will be looking to win the trophy for the very first time.
20.35 Can Leipzig win without Werner?
Julian Nagelsmann was asked this very question in the pre-match press conference, and he had a very direct reply: "It's not as if we have to play with a man less. We have the ability in midfield and attack to score goals. We have players who played little because of Timo and those players who were in the shadows can now take the responsibility."
20.25 Path to Portugal
RB Leipzig reached this stage of the competition after a 4-0 aggregate win over Spurs. A classy 1-0 win in London was followed with a 3-0 drubbing in Leipzig. Atletico's last 16 win was even more impressive, knocking out holders Liverpool. Both games feel like a long, long time ago.
20.15 Poulsen starts, Morata dropped
A big decision by both coaches in attack. Yussuf Poulsen gets the nod as Leipzig looks to fill the void left by Timo Werner. Patrik Schick has to make do with a place on the bench, as does Emil Forsberg.
Atletico also have a disgruntled striker on the bench in the shape of Alvaro Morata. Diego Costa is preferred as the lone striker for the Spanish side.
20.00 Team news!
RB Leipzig XI...
The Timo factor
In one of the most intriguing last eight contests, RB Leipzig take on Atletico Madrid in Lisbon on Thursday. Julian Nagelsmann's side will be without Timo Werner though, with the Germany striker having already departed the club for Chelsea and having declined Chelsea's offer to finish the campaign with Leipzig.
Werner's replacement in attack looks set to be Yussuf Poulsen, who has shaken off an ankle injury and is ready to partner Patrik Schick up top.
"We know that we can't completely replace Timo," Poulsen said. "But I also know that the coach has a lot of ideas on how we can approach this and be at least as effective in Lisbon as we were in our previous Champions League games. As long as I'm in the starting eleven, I always agree with the coach," he joked.
Nagelsmann relishing 'dynamite' duel with Simeone
Having convincingly beaten Tottenham Hotspur over two legs in the last 16, RB Leipzig have already gone further in the Champions League than ever before.
However, in Diego Simeone, Julian Nagelsmann knows he is going toe-to-toe with one of the best coaches in the business — and one who knows how to use every trick in the book.
"Now without spectators, you will be able to hear even more that he is always pointing things out, discussing a lot with the referee and demanding the use of cards," Nagelsmann said.
"But [Simeone] must have an extraordinary gift," the Leipzig coach added. "I believe that 99 percent of coaches who would always play 4-4-2 in such an aggressive fashion would be burned out after two years, but not him. He runs around like dynamite and still gets great feedback from his players"
"He wants to be successful. That's what sets him apart".