Christopher Nkunku scored a wonderful free-kick and Dani Olmo hit a long-range stunner as RB Leipzig overcame Cologne 3-1 in the Matchday 22 opener on Friday, a result that lifts them above the Billy Goats in the standings.
Leipzig may have lost to Bayern Munich last week, but the manner of their performance in the 3-2 defeat offered plenty of scope for encouragement, and they immediately sought to build on it here. Domenico Tedesco’s men pressed their visitors high up the pitch, forcing them to give away possession and preventing them from making any serious attacking headway. Indeed, by half-time the Billy Goats’ only attempt at goal was a speculative Ondrej Duda volley from distance that sailed well off target. At the other end of the pitch, Leipzig were a constant blur of movement and passing, with Nkunku and Olmo proving elusive between the lines. Nkunku nearly set up Andre Silva for a tap-in, only for Luca Kilian to clear off his toe, but the Frenchman broke the deadlock midway through the half with a superb direct free-kick from the edge of the area that curled into the top corner.
Cologne started the second half eager to make amends but any hopes of a comeback were quashed when the home side hit twice within the space of three minutes. First, Olmo was given time and space to advance towards the edge of the box before drilling an unstoppable shot low past Marvin Schwäbe. The Spaniard was involved again moments later, popping up on the left wing to cross for the unmarked Angelino to tap in. While that effectively sealed the points for Leipzig, Cologne refused to give in and could have pulled one back when Dejan Ljubicic’s brilliantly disguised pass found Sebastian Andersson, but the forward snatched at his shot and fired wide from 10 yards out. Nkunku almost grabbed his second of the game with a rasping effort from a tight angle that Schwäbe was grateful to paw behind for a corner. Ljubicic and Nordi Mukiele exchanged chances as the clock ticked down, and substitute Tim Lemperle scored a consolation for the visitors in stoppage time with a header from a corner, but the outcome had already been long been decided as Leipzig continued their upward trajectory under Tedesco.
- Nkunku is Leipzig’s leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga this season with 11.
- The Frenchman is the only Bundesliga player to have scored two direct free-kicks in 2021/22, and also the only person to have found the net three times from outside the box.
- Freiburg (16) are the only team to have scored more often that Leipzig (14) from dead-ball situations this season.
- Olmo recorded his first goal and first assist of the current Bundesliga season.
- Leipzig hit the net with each of their first three shots of the game.
- Angelino's goal was his first in a competitive game since December 2020.
Watch: Olmo: "It's always special to score"
Leipzig: Gulacsi (c) - Klostermann (Simakan 70'), Orban, Gvardiol - Henrichs, Haidara, Laimer (Szoboszlai 70'), Angelino (Mukiele 78') - Nkunku, Olmo (Forsberg 64') – Silva (Poulsen 64')
Unused subs: Martinez, Adams, Kampl, Novoa
Out: Halstenberg (back)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Cologne: Schwäbe - Schmitz, Kilian, Hübers, Hector (c) - Skhiri (Ostrak 85') - Özcan, Duda (Uth 62'), Kainz (Ljubicic 62') - Thielmann (Schindler 62'), Andersson (Lemperle 85')
Unused subs: T. Horn, Ehizibue, J. Horn, Schaub
Out: Chabot (not included), Modeste (ill)
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
Watch: Andersson: "Leipzig are very fast on the counter"
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