Emil Forsberg's (2nd.l.) late double broke Benfica hearts on an historic night for RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League. - © getty images
Emil Forsberg's (2nd.l.) late double broke Benfica hearts on an historic night for RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League. - © getty images
bundesliga

Emil Forsberg double sends RB Leipzig into the UEFA Champions League round of 16 at Benfica's expense

Emil Forsberg scored twice in injury time as RB Leipzig came from 2-0 down to hold Benfica and book their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage for the first time in their history.

RB Leipzig 2-2 Benfica
Goals: 0-1 Pizzi (20'), 0-2 Vinicius (59'), 1-2 Forsberg (pen. 90'), 2-2 Forsberg (90'+6)

Top of Group G on nine points after four matches, Leipzig knew a draw would be enough to send them through with a game to spare. Benfica, on the other hand, had to win to keep their qualification hopes alive. The defending Primeira Liga champions duly set up to attack, and went in front in the 20th minute through Pizzi after Champions League debutant Ethan Ampadu failed to deal with a teasing ball into the Leipzig box. In-form Frenchman Christopher Nkunku shot straight at former VfB Stuttgart stopper Odisseas Vlachodimos, who covered himself in glory with some fine goalkeeping to repel Forsberg and Marcel Sabitzer as Leipzig turned the screw.

Benfica's Pizzi struck the woodwork late in the first half, but Leipzig stuck to their guns as Forsberg tested Vlachodimos once more. Carlos Vinicius doubled Benfica's lead following a blistering counter, but in the process caught Peter Gulacsi, triggering a lengthy stoppage. The Leipzig custodian was unable to continue, though the delay resulted in nine game-changing minutes of injury time. Substitute Patrik Schick had already spurned a glorious opening when he was brought down for a 90th-minute penalty. Forsberg dispatched with aplomb, before heading in from Timo Werner in the sixth minute of added time to send the Red Bull Arena into raptures.

Match stats

  • Leipzig will be confirmed as group winners if they avoid defeat in Lyon. They are playing in only their second Champions League campaign.
  • Leipzig have scored 26 goals and conceded just six in their last six competitive matches.
  • Forsberg netted in the Champions League for the first time since 17 October 2017. That day he was also on target against a Portuguese side, in Leipzig's 3-2 home win over Porto.
  • After becoming the first coach to guide Hoffenheim into Europe and then into the Champions League, Nagelsmann is now the first to take Leipzig into the Champions League knockout stage.
  • Leipzig were still trailing 2-0 with 11 seconds of normal time remaining.
  • Ampadu (19 years, 74 days) became just the second Welsh teenager to start a Champions League match, after Aaron Ramsey, who did so at the age of 17 years and 315 days for Arsenal back in November 2008.

Line-ups

Leipzig: Gulacsi (Mvogo 64') – Klostermann, Upamecano, Ampadu (Mukiele 56'), Saracchi (Schick 70') - Sabitzer, Laimer, Demme (c), Nkunku – Forsberg – Werner
Unused subs: Haidara, Lookman, Cunha, Krauß
Out
: Adams (match fitness), Halstenberg (knock), Ilsanker (ineligible), Kampl (ankle), Konate (hip), Orban (knee), Wolf (ankle)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann

Benfica: Vlachodimos – Almeida (c), Ferro, Dias, Grimaldo – Pizzi (Caio 90'+3), Gabriel, Taarabt, Cervi (Jota 90'+8) – Chiquinho, Vinicius (de Tomas 82')
Unused subs: Zlobin, Jardel, Florentino, Tavares
Out: Seferovic (calf), Silva (groin)
Coach:
Bruno Lage

As it happened

LEIPZIG ARE THROUGH TO THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16!

Stunning, stunning scenes. Forsberg's the hero, and Leipzig join Bayern Munich in the last 16 for the first time. They'll do so so as Group G winners, if they avoid defeat in Lyon in their final group game. They only got promoted to the Bundesliga in 2016! What a story!

GROUP G
LEIPZIG 10pts
Zenit 7pts
Lyon 7pts
Benfica 3pts

90'+6 GOAL LEIPZIG 2-2 BENFICA

FORSSSBERG!!!!!!!!!!! Werner crosses for the unmarked Swede, who scored twice at the weekend, and BANG! Emphatic header. Leipzig on the brink of history... again...

90' GOAL! LEIPZIG 1-2 BENFICA

Ruben Dias is booked for a foul on Patrik Schick, and the referee awards a penalty. Emil Forsberg steps up, cool as you like - thunders his spot-kick down the middle! Grandstand finish as we head into NINE minutes of time added on following that earlier injury to Gulacsi...

85' PIZZI STRIKE

Mvogo's called on again, this time to deny Pizzi from range. Leipzig getting caught with men up the other end in the closing stages...

84' MVOGO TO THE RESCUE!

Audacious from Benfica substitute Raul de Tomas. He spots Yann Mvogo a mile off his line and takes the shot on from inside his own half. It's going in, but the Leipzig keeper back-tracks and succeeds in plucking the ball out of the air.

80' UPAMECANO HEADER

The corner comes in from Emil Forsberg, Upamecano rises, but sends his header just wide. So, so close - Leipzig have not given up yet!

74' ON A PLATE FOR SCHICK

Werner tears away down the left and finds Schick with a pin-point pass. The Leipzig sub only has Vlachodimos to beat, but gets his chipped attempt all kinds of wrong. Rust. On. Gears.

72' LEIPZIG PROBE

Vlachodimos is at it again, beating away a corner from Nkunku and repelling Forsberg. They've been Leipzig's two best players so far tonight - can they spark a late comeback...?

70' SCHICK'S ON

Julian Nagelsmann throws on Patrik Schick for his third appearance since joining Leipzig on loan from AS Roma in the summer. The Czech striker replaces left-back Marcelo Sarrachi in Leipzig's third and final change. Could be three at the back from here...

64' LEIPZIG CHANGE

Gulacsi can't continue. Dazed and confused, the Leipzig No.1 makes way for Yvon Mvogo. The Swiss keeper makes his first Champions League debut, but third first-team appearance of 2019/20 following a couple of run-outs in the DFB Cup.

59' GOAL! LEIPZIG 0-2 BENFICA

Vinicius gives Benfica a two-goal lead. He powers past Lukas Klostermann and through the Leipzig half, before slotting beyond Gulacsi. Textbook breakaway goal - very Leipzig, in fact. He caught Gulacsi with a knee in the one-on-one, though. This doesn't look good for the Hungarian...

56' LEIPZIG CHANGE

Champions League debutant Ethan Ampadu has struggled with the pace of the game tonight, and makes way for Nordi Mukiele.

56' FORSBERG CHANCE!

Forsberg connects with a Sarrachi cross, but Vlachodimos is there again to make the stop. The former VfB Stuttgart stopper is keeping Benfica in this!

53' LEIPZIG ON TOP

Leipzig have made a purposeful start to the second period, with Nkunku looking particularly lively. A couple of his crosses have already caused the Benfica defence a real headache, with goalkeeper Vlachodimos even taking an accidental blow to the eye from Dayot Upamecano for his troubles.

46' SECOND HALF!

Up and running again at the Red Bull Arena. Both sides as they were...

45' HALF-TIME LEIPZIG 0-1 BENFICA

Chances at both ends; one taken by Benfica. Can't say they deserve their lead, but that's football. Leipzig more than capable of getting the positive result they need to progress...

44' WOODWORK TO LEIPZIG'S RESCUE

Ampadu was culpable for Benfica's goal, but the Welsh teenager does really well to prevent Vinicius from getting a shot off, here. He slides in to put the ball behind for a corner which Pizzi plays short before collecting in a shooting position. He lets fly and strikes the angle of post and bar. Let-off for Leipzig!

35' LEIPZIG CHANCES

Vlachodimos saves well from Forsberg following a wonderful bit of interchange involving Nkunku. Leipzig come again as Marcel Sabitzer whips one goalwards, but the Benfica stopper tips it over quite spectacularly. Some save, that - and it needed to be!

30' PERMUTATIONS

If Leipzig lose this, they'll need to avoid defeat in Lyon in their final group game to be sure of their place in the last 16. There's a long way to go, though...

Group G live
LEIPZIG 9pts
Zenit 7pts
Lyon 7pts
Benfica 6pts

24' NKUNKU'S COOKING

Just the response Nagelsmann will have wanted to see as Christopher Nkunku makes Vlachodimos work from inside the box. The ball from Forsberg was measured to perfection - the Frenchman will be kicking himself he didn't bury it. Still, can't see Benfica keeping Leipzig out...

20' GOAL! LEIPZIG 0-1 BENFICA

The commentator's curse strikes - and so do Benfica. Just as Nagelsmann's boys were beginning to take control, Adel Taraabt's low cross causes panic in and among the makeshift Leipzig defence, and Pizzi takes full advantage. Still a long way to go - come on, Leipzig!

14' HIGH, WIDE AND NOT SO HANDSOME

Laimer concedes a free-kick in a promising position for Benfica, but Grimaldo whips his effort high over Gulacsi's goal frame. Leipzig look like they've just about weathered that early storm.

12' WERNER BLAZES OVER

Konrad Laimer does really well down the Leipzig right. He cuts the ball back for Timo Werner, who skies it! He knows he should have at least hit the target.

7' UPAMECANO CHANCE

Leipzig with their first chance. Christopher Nkunku finds Dayot Upamecano from a corner, but the big Frenchman's header is too close to Vlachodimos in the Benfica goal. Moments later, Emil Forsberg - who scored twice at the weekend - sends an effort off target. Leipzig growing into the game...

2' LEIPZIG ON THE BACK FOOT

Benfica come again as Chiquinho shoots wide of Gulacsi's goal. The Primeira Liga leaders have to win to keep European campaign alive, remember.

1' WARNING SHOT

Cervi forces Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi into an early save. Benfica, as expected, are going all-out attack at the Red Bull Arena. It won't be easy to defend against, but it could play into Leipzig's hands with the pace they have on the counter.

WE'RE OFF!

History beckons for RB Leipzig - can they seal the deal with a game to spare?

NAGELSMANN'S VIEW

"Reaching the knockout stages would be a great achievement for this team and for the club," explained Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann ahead of the game. "I would be especially pleased for the lads - it would be a just reward for all their hard work, during last season as well. It's always nice to be part of a new chapter for the club.

"I'm expecting the opponent to set up in a similar way to the reverse fixture. Sure, there will be the odd change of personnel, but Benfica will look to play their way through, which is how they caused us a few problems in Portugal. In my opinion, this was the hardest game of the group stage so far."

PERMUTATIONS

With Zenit beating Lyon in the other Group G game, a point will be enough for Leipzig to book their place in the knockout rounds for the first time in their history. Three points would see them through as group winners, though. If Leipzig do win, Benfica are guaranteed to finish bottom.

NOT SO HAPPY HUNTING GROUND

Benfica have lost eight of their last nine Champions League away games, whilst they have recorded just two wins on their previous 26 trips to Germany (D6, L18).

LEIPZIG TEAM NEWS

Ethan Ampadu makes his Champions League debut at the expense of Stefan Ilsanker in the Leipzig defence. Dayot Upamecano is also passed fit, while Marcelo Saracchi starts at left-back in place of the injured Marcel Halstenberg. Otherwise it's the same side that beat Cologne 4-1 at the weekend, with Emil Forsberg and Christopher Nkunku in behind Werner.

BENFICA TEAM NEWS

Carlos Vinicius leads the line in the absence of former Eintracht Frankfurt striker, Haris Seferovic. Midfielder Florentino Luis drops to the bench, with the more attack-minded Adel Taraabt coming in.

TURBO TIMO

Timo Werner is on course for his best campaign yet, having already found the back of the net 12 times in the league, including six in his last three. The 23-year-old, who became the youngest player to reach 200 top-flight appearances at the weekend, scored both goals in the reverse fixture as Leipzig ran out 2-1 winners in Portugal.

LEIPZIG ON FIRE

Leipzig have hit top form in recent weeks, winning their last five in all competitions and scoring 24 goals along the way. They're second in the Bundesliga - only a point behind leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach - and have won three of their four Champions League group games so far this term, losing only to Lyon on Matchday 2.

WELCOME!

Top of Group G with nine points from their first four games, Leipzig will be through if they avoid defeat against Benfica or if Zenit do not beat Lyon. Leipzig will clinch first place if they win and Lyon do not, while Benfica HAVE to win. Stay tuned!