RB Leipzig moved into the top three of the Bundesliga after a hard-fought victory at Bayer Leverkusen. ‘Die Werkself’ continued their miserable H2H record on home soil, failing to win any of their six meetings in the top flight.
A raucous atmosphere inside the BayArena failed to translate onto the pitch in a dreary first half. With the stakes so high, the level of respect on display between the sides was clear, with both weary of the threat their defences may face throughout the contest. Gerardo Seoane’s men had the first real opening on the half-hour mark when Patrik Schick slipped in Moussa Diaby, but the Frenchman’s electric pace couldn’t be matched by his finish, which failed to trouble Péter Gulácsi.
A slow start may not have surprised Domenico Tedesco, having decided to rest a number of his key players after their UEFA Europa League exploits. Regardless, a failure to register a single shot before the interval for the first time in their top-flight history was a cause for concern. Rather unsurprisingly, the visitors introduced the talismanic figure of Christopher Nkunku for the second half, and he was instantly instrumental. His clever footwork completely outfoxed Jonathan Tah, before Willi Orbán rattled the post.
Well beyond the hour mark, Lukáš Hrádecký was still yet to make a save as Leipzig continued to underwhelm. Full-back Nordi Mukiele was presented with a gilt-edged chance to take the lead, as his driving run off the ball was picked out by Konrad Laimer, but the Frenchman’s attempted dink was comfortably off target. Leverkusen were undone moments later, after a loose pass from Odilon Kossounou triggered an attack. Nkunku fed Szoboszlai, who fired with the outside of his boot, beating the goalkeeper thanks to a deflection off Jonathan Tah.
Leverkusen turned to their bench, introducing the likes of Kerem Demirbay and Paulinho. There was a fresh spring in their step, with Diaby and Robert Andrich going close to an equaliser. Seoane’s reshuffle came too late to make an impression though, as Leverkusen lost on home soil for just the second time in their last 10 Bundesliga outings. Meanwhile, victory for ‘Die Roten Bullen’ lifts them above their hosts, extending their unbeaten run to 14 matches in all competitions.