Kyle Walker was sent off as Manchester City ended their Champions League group stage campaign with a 2-1 defeat in Germany. Goals in each half by Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva gave RB Leipzig just their second group stage victory and secured qualification to the Europa League knockout stage. Riyad Mahrez pulled a goal back for the blues with 14 minutes remaining, but City couldn’t find another way past the Leipzig defence.
The blues had already qualified for the knockout phase of the competition as group winners, but manager Pep Guardiola still fielded a strong line-up, including a start for Kevin de Bruyne, his first since 6th November.
City had beaten the German side 6-3 when the two teams met at the Etihad in September, as City gave a demonstration of their attacking intent. Unfortunately, the blues displayed just a modicum of the urgency from that 9-goal thriller. For all City’s possession, they managed just three shots on target throughout the whole 90 minutes.
The signs were there that it wasn’t going to be City’s night as they struggled to break down a well organised Leipzig defence. The blues were once again wasteful in front of goal. With Nathan Ake heading over from a good position and Ilkay Gundogan firing over the bar.
If Leipzig’s defence was in good form, the same could not be said about City’s, as the German side took advantage of City’s high line to open the scoring. Konrad Laimer’s through ball caught the City defence napping and Szoboszlai rounded Steffen to slot the ball into an empty goal.
That should have woken the blues, and Phil Foden almost responded with an equaliser, but saw his powerful shot across the keeper hit the post, with City unable to pick up the rebound. The returning de Bruyne also tested the home keeper with a free kick that stung the palms of Gulacsi
The blues went further behind in the 71st minute. Neat play on the Leipzig left allowed Emil Forsberg time to cross and Andre Silva took a touch before firing past Steffen.
City had appeals for a penalty turned down when Raheem Sterling appeared to be bundled over with no attempt made to play the ball. A VAR check upheld the referee’s decision not to award a penalty, but moments later, Mahrez provided a lifeline.
Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross from the left found the Algerian at the far post, and his header past the keeper gave City hop of avoiding a second Champions League defeat of the season.
That hope was extinguished five minutes later when Walker received his marching orders for an unnecessary and petulant kick from behind at Silva. The defender allowed his frustrations to get the better of him and was rightly shown a straight red.
Although City ended their campaign top of the pile, the blues lost two and failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their six matches, a worrying statistic for last year’s finalists, and something for Pep to think about before the knockout stage begins in February.
Final score: RB Leipzig 2-1 Manchester City