Promoted RB Leipzig have sensationally qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stages, Ralph Hasenhüttl's side securing a top-three Bundesliga finish courtesy of a 4-1 win at Hertha Berlin's Olympiastadion on Matchday 32.
Buoyed by the chance of a maiden, historic European qualification, Leipzig began on the front foot in customary fashion. It took only 11 minutes for the Eastern upstarts to take the lead, Timo Werner brilliantly heading past Rune Jarstein from Marcel Sabitzer's fine cross. Hasenhüttl's troops remained in control and Werner should have doubled the lead in the 35th minute, but Jarstein denied the 21-year-old low to his right. Alexander Esswein twice shot over before the break, but his efforts were Hertha's only first-half chances.
It took ten minutes of the second period for Leipzig to find the goal their continued dominance deserved: after Jarstein slipped when in possession, Yussuf Poulsen was on hand to collect and square for Werner, who made no mistake in front of an empty net. Werner and the excellent Naby Keita came close to adding a third for Leipzig, but after a late Rani Khedira own-goal had caused some nerves, substitute Davie Selke scored twice in the final stages to secure another three points for the promoted outfit and send the visiting fans singing long into the Berlin night, dreaming dreams of Europe.
Man of the match
As he has been all season, Werner was twice clinical when it mattered. The young German has now scored a remarkable 19 goals this season, four of which have been headers. Only Mario Gomez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have bettered that return with their heads.
Few can begrudge Leipzig their chance to play in Europe: the promoted side have played thrilling, attacking football all season and seeing how Hasenhüttl's tyros – with the distinctive, pressing brand of football – fare in the Champions League will be one of next season's most intriguing subplots.
- Second with 66 points, Leipzig can no longer be caught by fourth-place Hoffenheim (58 points).
- The last player from a promoted side to score at least 18 goals was Hertha Berlin's Vedad Ibisevic in 2007/08 – then playing for Hoffenheim. Werner's brace lifts him to 19.
- No team has scored more than Leipzig's 12 headers this season.
Hertha Berlin: Jarstein - Pekarik, Brooks, Langkamp, Torunarigha – Skjelbred (c) (Allan, 64'), Darida - Esswein (Haraguchi, 81'), Stocker (Weiser, 63'), Kalou – Ibisevic
Coach: Pal Dardai
RB Leipzig: Gulasci – Ilsanker, Compper, Upamecano, Bernardo - Sabitzer, Keita (Khedira, 76'), Demme (c), Forsberg - Werner (Kaiser, 87'), Poulsen (Selke, 81')
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Watch: click play on the video below for Emil Forsberg's take on Leipzig's win: