Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg scored braces as RB Leipzig kept alive their hopes of playing UEFA Europa League football next year with a crushing 5-0 win away to Club Brugge.
Club Brugge 0-5 RB Leipzig
Goals: 0-1 Nkunku 9' (assist: Silva), 0-2 Forsberg (pen. 17'), 0-3 Silva 26' (assist: Angelino), 0-4 Forsberg (45+1'), 0-5 Nkunku 90+3' (assist: Novoa)
Out of the running for a top-two finish in UEFA Champions League Group A, Leipzig travelled to Belgium needing a win to have any chance of prolonging their European campaign via qualification to the Europa League. Despite a whole host of absentees, including head coach Jesse Marsch, Die Roten Bullen took a huge step to realising that objective thanks to a blistering first-half display. Nkunku set the tone inside 14 minutes, reacting quickest to turn in on the rebound after Andre Silva's initial effort had been saved. Forsberg doubled up from the penalty spot, before Silva got in on the act with a thumping header. Forsberg drove in a fourth on the stroke of half-time to give Leipzig an unassailable lead.
Konrad Laimer signalled more of the same with a warning shot at Simon Mignolet early in the second half. Silva then sent Nkunku scampering in on goal, but the angle didn’t do him any favours and his eventual strike was parried to safety. Brugge mustered a couple of speculative attempts through substitute Mats Rits and Noa Lang, but Josep Martinez was rarely threatened on only his second competitive start between the Leipzig goal-posts. Mignolet, by contrast, pulled off two big saves to deny Silva his brace, before Nkunku put the cherry on the cake in added time. Leipzig will qualify for the Europa League last 32 if they equal Brugge's result against Paris Saint-Germain, when they host Manchester City on Matchday 6.
- Nkunku has scored 13 and assisted seven in 19 competitive appearances so far this season. He's had a hand in eight of Leipzig's 13 goals in the 2021/22 Champions League.
- Forsberg is Leipzig's nine-goal record Champions League scorer.
- Brian Brobbey made his first Leipzig start, following seven substitute appearances.
- Leipzig kept their first Champions League clean sheet of the season.
- This is Leipzig's fourth Champions League campaign. They did not make it out of the groups on debut in the 2017/18 edition, but went on to reach that season's Europa League quarter-finals.
- Brugge have only won one of their last 16 Champions League home matches.
Brugge: Mignolet - Van der Brempt (Mechele 60'), Hendry, Nsoki (Ricca 46'), Mata - Balanta, Vanaken (c) - De Ketelaere (Wesley 82') - Lang, Dost (Rits 46'), Sowah (Izquierdo 82')
Unused subs: Lammens, Maouassa, Vormer, Mbamba-Muanda
Out: Sobol (unconfirmed)
Coach: Philippe Clement
Leipzig: Martinez - Mukiele, Klostermann (Henrichs 62'), Gvardiol (Bonnah 80'), Angelino - Nkunku, Laimer (Moriba 62'), Kampl (c), Forsberg - Silva, Brobbey (Novoa 66')
Unused subs: Eutinger, Wosz
Out: Adams (suspended), Gulacsi (not included), Haidara (ankle), Halstenberg (ankle), Olmo (hamstring), Orban (unwell), Poulsen (calf), Saracchi (knee), Simakan (cold), Szoboszlai (ankle)
Coach: Jesse Marsch
As it happened!
FULL-TIME: BRUGGE 0-5 LEIPZIG
Nkunku puts the icing on the cake, bundling in after Novoa's effort was saved. If Leipzig match Brugge’s result against Paris Saint-Germain, when they host Manchester City on Matchday 6, a place in the Europa League last 32 will be theirs!
TIME ADDED ON
Four minutes for Brugge to endure. They've been well and truly schooled by a makeshift Leipzig side...
Martinez has not had much to do, but that's a strng diving save to keep out Lang.
Nkunku releases Silva, but the Leipzig striker fires straight at Mignolet. He's played through moments later, only for the Brugge stopper to beat him to it.
Beierlorzer uses the opportunity to rotate, with Leipzig hosting top-four rivals Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Martinez is called on to keep out a fairly straightforward effort from Rits. The young Spaniard has looked very assured on this, his second Leipzig start.
NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED
Laimer makes Mignolet work, reminding Brugge that Leipzig are by no means done for the night yet.
Philippe Clement shuffles his pack after seeing his side completely outplayed in the first half. It's harsh on Dost, who had precious little to feed on. He was a real handful in his pomp for Wolfsburg.
FORSBERG AT THE DOUBLE!
Leipzig score again with the last meaningful kick of a dominant first-half showing. After Sowah shoots wide, the visitors drive up the left with Forsberg. He's allowed to go unchecked, before arrowing a beauty of a hit into the far corner.
TIME ADDED ON
Just 60 seconds left of a pretty perfect first half from a Leipzig perspective.
Sowah meets a De Ketelaere corner, but doesn't trouble Martinez. Leipzig the better team by a country mile in this first half...
LEIPZIG ADD A THIRD!
Leipzig are running away with it in Brugge! Angelino hangs up a cross that Silva attacks with pure power, sending an unstoppable header past Mignolet for 3-0!
Ex-Bundesliga striker Bas Dost with Brugge's first real opening, but Martinez gets behind his header to put it behind for a corner that comes to nothing.
Brugge are all over the shop as Forsberg whips in a corner. Silva meets it, but can't find the target.
Angelino fires goalwards. It takes a wicked deflection, leaving Mignolet stranded, but Brobbey can't adjust his body in time to divert the ball into the back of the net. Brugge hanging on.
Forsberg thumps his corner beyond Mignolet's outstretched arm. Leipzig are in dreamland!
Brobbey goes down in the box under Sowah's challenge, and Leipzig have a penalty. Forsberg to take...
Nkunku's in again, but Mignolet makes the block. Tremendous start from Leipzig. Brugge can't live with their high press.
Leipzig lead, and it's their talisman with the opening goal! Nkunku's quickest to react as Mignolet parries Silva's effort, the Frenchman putting away his 11th goal in his last 14 competitive games.
Mukiele draws a save from Mignolet with a free-kick. Bright start from Leipzig, who keep the pressure on with a couple of corners. Brugge survive - for now...
Angelino drives into the box hell-bent on connecting with a bouncing ball. He puts his foot through it, but can't find the target.
Under way in Brugge. Three points and an injury-free outing will go down very nicely indeed. Leipzig only have one player over the age of 19 on their threadbare bench tonight...
WHO IS BRIAN BROBBEY?Brian Brobbey makes his first start for Leipzig. The 19-year-old forward has made seven substitute appearances for the club since making the switch from Ajax in the summer, registering one assist.
Leipzig picked up their first point of their European campaign in the 2-2 home draw against PSG last time out, but can no longer finish in the top two. Victory tonight would take them level third with Brugge, with one round of Group A fixtures still to play. The hosts, meanwhile, need a win to keep their slim hopes of advancing to the last 16 alive.
MORE ON THOSE TEAMS
Head coach Jesse Marsch is self isolating, so assistant Achim Beierlorzer deputises in the dugout. With a whole host of first-teamers also out, there are rare starts for goalkeeper Josep Martinez and young Dutch forward Brian Brobbey.
LEIPZIG STARTING LINE-UP
Martinez - Mukiele, Klostermann, Gvardiol, Angelino - Nkunku, Laimer, Kampl (c), Forsberg - Silva, Brobbey
Eutinger, Moriba, Bonnah, Novoa, Henrichs, Wosz
BRUGGE STARTING LINE-UP
Mignolet - Van der Brempt, Hendry, Nsoki, Mata - Balanta, Vanaken (c) - De Ketelaere - Lang, Dost, Sowah
Lammens, Wesley, Maouassa, Ricca, Izquierdo, Vormer, Rits, Mechele, Mbamba-Muanda
Leipzig can no longer reach the Champions League knockouts, but they can still qualify for the Europa League last 32. Die Roten Bullen must win in Belgium to keep their hopes alive, though...