Timo Werner struck a brace as RB Leipzig got off to the perfect start in their UEFA Champions League campaign, beating Benfica 2-1 away to go top of Group G.
BENFICA 1-2 RB LEIPZIG
Goals: 0-1 Werner (69'), 0-2 Werner (78'), 1-2 Seferovic (84')
If Leipzig had been overrun by Bayern Munich in the early stages of their Matchday 4 encounter at the weekend, they began here determined that it wouldn't happen again. Julian Nagelsmann's side set out their stall with some thundering early tackles, but there were also plenty of brains to accompany their brawn in the form of neat interplay. Werner even had the ball in the net in the seventh minute, only to see his effort ruled out for offside. The Germany international went close again shortly afterwards, while Emil Forsberg and Marcel Sabitzer also had promising sights of goal. Leipzig did not have things all their own way, however, and needed Peter Gulacsi to make a handful of good saves - from the lively Raul de Tomas in particular - to keep the scoreline goalless at the interval.
Werner had a couple of inviting openings early in the second period, and while he was unable to make the most of them, they nevertheless helped the 23-year-old get his eye in. It was perhaps inevitable that he would be the one to break the deadlock, lashing in a low shot from 16 yards out following good hold-up play from Yussuf Poulsen. Werner doubled his tally for the evening shortly afterwards, netting his fifth goal in the competition to tap in from Sabitzer's pass. While the two-goal cushion was not undeserved, Benfica were by no means overwhelmed and Gulacsi made several more saves to preserve their lead. Former Eintracht Frankfurt forward Haris Seferovic did eventually beat the Hungarian goalkeeper late on, but it proved to be a mere consolation as Leipzig held on to go top of Group G.
- Leipzig enjoyed 51 per cent of possession, attempted more passes (554 to 508) and completed more passes (432 to 403) than their hosts.
- Nagelsmann's side also covered more ground collectively than Benfica (70.33 miles to 67.29 miles)
- Only Munich's Robert Lewandowski (7) has scored more Bundesliga goals than Werner (5) this season.
- In Marcel Sabitzer, Leipzig boast the Bundesliga's second-best goalmaker (3) behind Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho. Forsberg and Poulsen have both made two league goals this season.
- Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos is German-born, and started his career at hometown club VfB Stuttgart. He was in Germany's 2017 U21 EURO-winning squad.
- Benfica striker Seferovic played for Frankfurt for three seasons, scoring 16 Bundesliga goals, before moving to Lisbon in 2017.
Benfica: Vlachodimos – Tavares, Dias, Ferro, Grimaldo - Pizzi (Rafa Silva 76'), Fejsa, Taarabt, Cervi (Seferovic 76') - Jota (David Tavares 67'), De Tomas
Unused subs: Zlobin, Caio, Jardel
Out: Chiquinho (thigh), Conti (thigh), Ebuehi (muscular), Gabriel (knee), Gedson Fernandes (metatarsal), Vinicius (thigh), Florentino (knock)
Coach: Bruno Lage
Leipzig: Gulacsi – Mukiele, Konate, Orban (c) – Sabitzer, Laimer (Haidara 39'), Demme, Forsberg (Nkunku 88'), Halstenberg (Klostermann 83') – Poulsen, Werner
Unused subs: Mvogo, Upamecano, Lookman, Cunha
Out: Adams (metatarsal), Ilsanker (not in squad), Kampl (ankle), Wolf (ankle), Schick (ankle)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Watch: Timo Werner under the tactical microscope
AS IT HAPPENED!
FULL TIME! BIG WIN FOR LEIPZIG
There were some tired legs towards the end there, but Leipzig hold on to take all three points thanks to Timo Werner's brace. It's the perfect start to their Champions League campaign!
90' INTO STOPPAGE TIME
There will be four minutes of additional time.
88' NKUNKU FOR FORSBERG
Forsberg has run himself into the ground and his replaced by Nkunku. Will his fresh legs and quick feet prove decisive in the last couple of minutes?
84' GOAL! SEFEROVIC PULLS ONE BACK!
He's only been on the pitch for a few minutes but the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker has set up a nerve-wracking finale, sliding in at the back post to convert a teasing cross from the right.
83' KLOSTERMANN FOR HALSTENBERG
Leipzig run down the clock for a few seconds, bringing on one Germany international for another
78' GOOOOOAALL! WERNER AT THE DOUBLE!
The Germany international gets his second of the game, tapping in from close range to finish a lovely move. Forsberg flicked the ball over the Benfica defence to Sabitzer, who squared to allow Werner to prod into an empty net.
The referee's assistant initially flags it for offside, but the goal is given after a check with VAR.
76' DOUBLE SUB FOR BENFICA
Needing a goal, the hosts have shaken up their front line by bringing on Seferovic and Rafa Silva for Cervi and Pizzi.
74' ANOTHER BRILLIANT SAVE BY GULACSI!
Leipzig's defence is carved open by a lovely reverse pass and suddenly De Tomas is one-on-one with Gulacsi. Surely he must score, but Gulacsi again gets his angles right and makes a fine stop.
71' GRIMALDO ALMOST LEVELS
Benfica are awarded a free-kick just outside Leipzig's penalty box, over towards the right. It's the perfect position for a left-footer and Grimaldo duly steps up, curls a shot over the wall and looks to have scored... but Gulacsi dives to his left to punch clear!
69' GOOOOOAAAL! WERNER BREAKS THE DEADLOCK!
Poulsen receives the ball with his back to goal inside the Benfica penalty area. He takes a touch to steady himself and suddenly Werner is there, pouncing on the ball to drill a low effort into the bottom left corner from 16 yards out.
68' SO CLOSE FROM PIZZI
Pizzi receives the ball on the left-hand side of the Leipzig penalty area and drills a shot this wide of Gulacsi's post. That was close!
67' DAVID TAVARES ON FOR JOTA
The hosts make their first substitution of the game and it's a bid to freshen up the attack.
65' GULACSI WELL PLACED
Benfica swing in a corner from the left that loops all the way to the back post, where De Tomas is unmarked. The forward heads it towards goal, but Gulacsi has anticipated the danger and makes a comfortable save.
61' GULACSI TO THE RESCUE
No sooner have we sung Leipzig's praises than Benfica very nearly take the lead through a swift counter of their own. The ball is worked from left to right to Pizzi, but Gulacsi gets down well to save.
59' LEIPZIG'S INTENSITY TAKING ITS TOLL
The visitors just seem to be a yard quicker at the moment and are getting forward well. You sense a goal is coming if they can keep up the pressure for another little while.
56' FINAL BALL MISSING
Forsberg leads a swift counter-attack for Leipzig, driving forward from midfield and riding a tackle to get to the edge of the Benfica penalty area. Werner's run draws two defenders towards him, leaving Sabizter wide open on the right.
Forsberg tries to find him, but his pass clips off the heel of a defender and the chance goes begging.
51' DE TOMAS JUST WIDE
Benfica respond with a counter-jab of their own, De Tomas cutting inside from the left and curling a dipping shot a whisker wide of Gulacsi's far post.
49' HOW DID THAT NOT GO IN?!?
A lovely one-two between Poulsen and Werner and the former is suddenly unmarked, with just Vlachodimos to beat. He's over to the left and the angle is tight, so he tries to square it into the middle for Sabitzer, who'll be left with a simple tap-in. But Vlachodimos gets a fingertip to the ball and diverts it to safety!
47' WERNER ALMOST IN!
Forsberg threads a lovely pass inside the Benfica right-back and Werner is instantly on to it, beating his marker for pace. He just needs to touch it past the goalkeeper and into the far corner, but Vlachodimos is alive to the danger and spreads himself to make the block.
The ball is rolling once again. Will we see a winner?
HALF-TIME! NOTHING IN IT
Goalscoring chances have increased as the half wore on and both have had decent attempts, but an evenly contested first half ends goalless.
45+3' HUGE SAVE FROM GULACSI!
A free-kick deep into stoppage time is lofted to Leipzig's back post, where De Tomas gets his head on it. He's looking to squeeze the ball inside the near post, but Gulacsi pulls off a superb reaction save to keep it out.
44' SABITZER! NO...
A nice break down the left from Leipzig and the ball bobbles free inside the penalty area. It falls to Sabitzer on his left foot, but his first-time shot is blocked by a last-gasp lunge from a defender.
42' FORSBERG JUST WIDE
The Swede unleashes a fierce drive from just outside the penalty area, but it fizzes just wide of the goal.
39' LAIMER OFF, HAIDARA ON
Laimer's evening is over and he limps around the edge of the pitch towards the tunnel, his left ankle heavily bandaged. Hopefully it's nothing too serious. On comes Amadou Haidara in his stead.
36' LAIMER INJURED
The Leipzig midfielder goes over on his left ankle after crunching into a tackle on Jota. He's in some pain and receives treatment on the pitch, before hobbling off for some more magic spray.
33' TOO LOOSE FROM LEIPZIG
A nice break from the visitors ends with Mukiele bursting into space down the right. He's got time to pick out the run of the unmarked Forsberg at the back post, but he gets it all wrong and the ball goes nowhere near its intended target.
29' GULACSI CALLED INTO ACTION
The hosts respond with their best opportunity too as Grimaldo lets fly inside the box, but Gulacsi gets down well to make the save.
26' FIRST CHANCE!
The first real opening of the game falls to Werner, who charges down the inside left channel, cuts inside onto his right foot and curls an effort towards the far post. It's well placed, but lacks the power to beat Vlachodimos, who punches clear.
19' EVENLY BALANCED
Leipzig are getting forward well and stringing some nice passes together, but it's not really clicking in the final third for them yet. A mishit corner from Sabitzer and a heavy touch from Werner on the edge of the box are indicative of that. It's a similar story for Benfica, who are struggling to make inroads into the Leipzig half at present.
16' JOTA LIVELY
The Portuguese forward looks a tidy player, with plenty of jinks, shimmies and shoulder dips in his locker. The Leipzig defenders are having none of it, though, and are keeping him in check with some tight marking.
12' DE TOMAS FIRES OVER
Benfica are awarded a free-kick in a promising position: central, about 30 yards out. De Tomas sets himself and goes for a shot, but it's high, wide and not particularly pretty from the forward.
10' MUSCULAR LEIPZIG
Poulsen is sent crashing to the floor under a hefty challenge. He's left clutching his jaw but is ok to continue. In response, the visitors thunder into a few tackles of their own, letting their hosts know they will not have things all their own way. The diminutive Jota is the unfortunate recipient of a crunching Konate challenge.
7' DISALLOWED GOAL FOR LEIPZIG!
Forsberg taps the ball into an empty net after Werner squared the ball to him inside the penalty box, but the referee chalks the goal off for offside in the build-up.
3' INTENSE OPENING
Both teams are pressing the other high up the pitch, hounding in packs and not allowing anyone any time on the ball. As such, possession is going to-and-fro every couple of seconds. No chances at yet, though.
Here we go! Leipzig get the ball rolling at a noisy Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica!
ALL SQUARE IN LYON
Lyon and Zenit St. Petersburg shared the points in a 1-1 draw in today's other Group G match, which kicked off early.
The winner from this game, therefore, would be the early frontrunner in the section.
NOT LONG NOW
The teams are out on the pitch going through their warm-up routines. The action will be under way in about 20 minutes or so.
SEFEROVIC ON THE BENCH!
Now there's a surprise! The hosts have left their chief marksman Seferovic on the bench for this one. The Swiss forward hasn't been in great form, admittedly, with just one goal this season, but he was nevertheless expected to start given his experience and physical presence.
In his place starts the more agile, pacy Joao Pedro Neves Filipe, also known as Jota. The 20-year-old has one assist in 34 minutes of action in the Portuguese Liga NOS so far this term.
ONE CHANGE FOR LEIPZIG
Visiting coach Nagelsmann has made one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Bayern at the weekend, swapping in Diego Demme for Lukas Klostermann in midfield.
Upamecano is on the bench and could make his first appearance of the season following injury, while there is plenty of attacking talent in reserve too, with Nkunku, Lookman, Cunha and Haidara all waiting in the wings.
BRUNO LAGE'S TOUCHLINE BAN
Benfica head coach Bruno Lage will not be allowed on the touchline or in his team's dressing room this evening as he serves a ban as punishment for being sent to the stands in last season's Europa League quarter-final second leg, when his side were knocked out by Eintracht Frankfurt.
SEFEROVIC ANTICIPATING "TOUGH MATCH"
The Benfica forward addressed the media on Thursday and knows what to expect of the Bundesliga visitors, even if they are eager for victory themselves:
"Leipzig are going through a good moment, they're strong, they have good players. It'll be a tough match, not just for us, but also for them. It'll be a good and attack-minded game and one we want to win. We want to get a good result. In the last two years, thing didn't go so well, but we want to change that. Tomorrow we'll give our all."
NAGELSMANN: "THEY'RE A GOOD TEAM WITH LOTS OF QUALITY"
Leipzig head coach Nagelsmann is wary ahead of today's match, especially as Eintracht Frankfurt lost 4-2 in the same stadium in last season's Europa League. "Obviously we've watched them a lot, both in the league and I also saw them live on two occasions last season," he said at his pre-match press conference.
"They're a good team with a lot of quality. Their strikers have different qualities and are not easy to keep in check. We all know Seferovic from the Bundesliga and he's very agile and makes deep runs in behind the defence. He's very strong physically and is a good target man."
ONE TO WATCH: PIZZI
While Seferovic and Raul De Tomas are Benfica's regular strike duo, they only have one goal between them so far this season. That is not to say, however, that the Portuguese side have no firepower; Pizzi has taken up the mantle and has six goals in the domestic league so far this term.
WERNER ON FIRE
Leipzig's main danger man is no secret, and Werner is in blistering form at present with five goals in his opening four Bundesliga games this season.
His record in the Champions League is respectable too, with three in six games last term - including one against Benfica's perennial rivals Porto.
These teams have never met before, either in a friendly or a competitive fixture, so there is no historic precedent.
Benfica forward Seferovic did, however, face Leipzig on two occasions during his time at Eintracht Frankfurt. In the 2016/17 season he played the final 18 minutes of a 3-0 defeat in Leipzig, and later played from start to finish in a 2-2 draw in Frankfurt, although he did not get on the scoresheet.
Nagelsmann announced some welcome news at his pre-match press conference on Monday, with France U21 centre-back Dayot Upamecano in the squad following injury.
The stakes might be a tad too high for him here as he feels his way back to form so Willi Orban, Nordi Mukiele and Ibrahima Konate are expected to once again form the team's three-man defence.
Having passed their first major test of the season by drawing 1-1 with Bayern Munich on Saturday, Julian Nagelsmann's youthful RB Leipzig side face their next one today as they kick-off their Champions League campaign in Portugal. Stay tuned for all the latest team news and updates right here!