Bundesliga debutants RB Leipzig are guaranteed to take part in next season's UEFA Champions League after easing to their fourth consecutive league win at home to Freiburg on Saturday.
RB Leipzig 4-0 Freiburg
Leipzig came out all guns blazing at the Red Bull Arena, and it was a question of when, rather than if, they would open the scoring. Emil Forsberg fired just wide early on, while Yussuf Poulsen came agonisingly close to connecting with Timo Werner's fizzing cross from the left. Poulsen broke the deadlock after getting above Caglar Söyüncü to head in a teasing Forsberg free-kick – the Swedish international, Europe's assist king, with his 15th of the campaign. Poulsen then threaded a fine ball through to Werner, who raced away from Söyüncü to double Leipzig's advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Freiburg coach Christian Streich rang the changes at half-time, hauling off Karim Guede and Julian Schuster for Nils Petersen and Nicolas Höfler, but this was to be Leipzig's afternoon, and Naby Keita made it 3-0 with a superb finish into the top corner, after being unwittingly teed up by Freiburg's Marc-Oliver Kempf. There was even time for Diego Demme to add a fourth – his first of the season – though he paid the price for a brave header after losing a tooth. Leipzig are now 18 points clear of fifth-placed Hertha Berlin with five games to go and guaranteed a top-four finish – not to mention a place in at least the playoff round of the Champions League.
Man of the Match
Having popped up with a late goal to help Leipzig take all three points against Leverkusen last time out, Poulsen set them on their way to victory against Freiburg on Saturday. Within the space of six minutes, the Danish international nodded in his third of the season and set up Werner for his 16th. After six weeks on the sidelines with a muscle injury, the 22-year-old looks back to his best.
From Bundesliga 2 to the UEFA Champions League in under a year. RB Leipzig continue to rewrite the Bundesliga history books in their extraordinary debut season, and their reward will be the opportunity to test themselves against Europe's elite clubs in 2017/18. What an astounding achievement from Ralph Hasenhüttl and his players.
- Werner has now scored more goals against Freiburg (6) than against any other club. Five of Leipzig's last eight goals have been headers. Demme scored not just his first goal of the season, but the first of his professional career.
Leipzig: Gulacsi – Bernardo, Upamecano, Compper, Halstenberg – Sabitzer (Kaiser 70'), Keita (Ilsanker 56'), Demme (c), Forsberg – Poulsen (Burke 78'), Werner
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Freiburg: Schwolow – Kübler, Söyüncü, Kempf, Ignjovski – Frantz, Schuster (c) (Höfler 46'), Abrashi (Stenzel 80'), Haberer – Guede (Petersen 46'), Niederlechner
Coach: Christian Streich
Watch: Leipzig attacker Forsberg reflects on the win over Freiburg