RB Leipzig 0-1 Real Madrid: 5 hits and flops as Brahim Diaz goal seals win for Los Blancos | UEFA Champions League 2023-24

Real Madrid beat RB Leipzig 1-0 in the first leg of their round-of-16 clash in the Champions League on Tuesday (February 13). Brahim Diaz scored the only goal of the game in the 48th minute as Los Blancos take a slender advantage into the deciding leg next month.

Contrary to the scoreline, Leipzig started the match on a stronger note and even had the ball in the back of the net after only three minutes. Benjamin Sesko headed one in at the back post, but he was adjudged offside, and the goal was ruled out.

The visitors gradually worked their way into the game but Leipzig remained dangerous. With no goals to separate them, Leipzig and Madrid went into the break goalless.

Just three minutes into the restart, though, Diaz broke the deadlock for Madrid with a brilliant finish at the far post following a sensational run into the box from the right.

Instead of upping the ante and doubling down on their lead, Carlo Acenlotti’s side were content to sit deep, as Leipzig pushed for an equalizer. Andriy Lunin’s marvelous performance between the sticks ensured a frustrated evening for them, while Vinicius saw a shot come off the post.

Real Madrid host Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg on March 6.

Here are the hits and flops from the match:

Hit: Brahim Diaz (Real Madrid)

Let’s start with the match-winner himself. Brahim Diaz wasn’t necessarily the best player on the pitch, but he certainly made a telling difference in the game for Real Madrid with a top-drawer strike in the second half which gave them a slender lead into the tie.

Starting in place of Jude Bellingham, Diaz gave Leipzig’s defense plenty to ponder with his precocious dribbling skills, as the midfielder completed six of his nine attempts. He also won nine ground duels and made four key passes, a testament to his creative influence in the match.

Diaz’s best moment, though, came in the 48th minute when he twisted and turned Leipzig defenders inside out during a brilliant solo run before slotting a cool finish into the far corner.

Flop: Lois Openda (RB Leipzig)

With 19 goals and four assists from 31 games, Lois Openda has been having a terrific campaign for RB Leipzig, but he chose the worst possible game to drop a stinker. The forward was completely anonymous on a day when the Red Bulls really needed his goals, and finished the game without a single shot on target.

Openda was firmly kept under wraps by Real Madrid’s stoic backline, cutting him off of supply lines and not allowing him any time on the ball or space to operate in. In fact, he didn’t make a single cross or lay a single key pass, which is a reflection of how much of a non-factor he was for the hosts in the game.

Hit: Andriy Lunin (Real Madrid)

RB Leipzig ended the game with nine shots on target, thrice as many as Real Madrid, but not a single goal – all thanks to Andriy Lunin. The Ukrainian was an unbeatable fortress of mental resolve, dominating the box with authority and leading his side from the back with aplomb.

Lunin was actually beaten early on when Benjamin Sesko had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out. The moment only seemed to bolster the Real Madrid custodian, who then put on a goalkeeping masterclass with a series of vital saves and match-saving clearances.

It was a real man-of-the-match performance from a player whose development this season has been astounding. At this rate, Lunin might as well establish himself as the first-choice ‘keeper even for their La Liga matches.

Flop: Mohamed Simakan (RB Leipzig)

Mohamed Simakan failed to make a notable impact at both ends, especially in defense, as his poor positional awareness left acres of space in behind for Vinicius to exploit.

The Brazilian left him in the dust with his buccaneering runs on the left. In the 69th minute, he was far up the pitch when Los Blancos broke forward, allowing Vinicius to create a wonderful chance.

In total, Simakan was dribbled past five times, which is a reflection of his lack of speed, while also losing possession a staggering 16 times. He misplaced quite a few passes too, registering only 72% pass completion.

Hit: Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Another late bloomer in the match, Vinicius Junior struggled to find his rhythm in the first half but sprung to life after the break. He even hit the woodwork and narrowly missed a chance to score.

Adventurous, energetic, and skillful, Vinicius stretched Leipzig’s defense and created some glorious chances for his attacking cohorts. He registered three key passes, completed six dribble attempts, and mustered two shots, one of which came off the upright.

Edited by Parag Jain

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