Leipzig beats Zenit 2-0 in Champions League
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Leipzig beat Zenit St. Petersburg 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday, moving to the verge of qualifying from the group stage for the first time.
Star forward Timo Werner had scored five goals and assisted five more in Leipzig’s previous two games, but was only used as a substitute in Russia as his teammates took their chance to shine.
“It was great to see the way we outplayed our opponent,” Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “We dominated the game and deservedly took the three points. We have at least one more step to go but we want to win both of our remaining games.”
Leipzig’s Marcel Halstenberg thought he’d scored in the 14th minute with a deflected shot, but it was disallowed after video review of a handball in the build-up.
The breakthrough came with the last kick of the first half as Diego Demme hammered in a rebound after Marcel Sabitzer’s free kick hit the wall.
Zenit started to play higher up the field and was exposed in the 63rd when Emil Forsberg played Sabitzer in with a through ball. The Austrian sent goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov sprawling and finished calmly to score Leipzig’s second goal.
Freezing temperatures and snow in St. Petersburg meant the game was played with the Gazprom Arena’s roof closed.
Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulasci, playing his 150th game for the club, made two good saves to stop Sardar Azmoun on counterattacks, but otherwise the defensively-minded Russian club lacked creativity. Nagelsmann said he was surprised how deep Zenit set its defensive line.
The German club’s third win leaves it top of Group G with nine points and able to secure qualification for the knockout stages for the first time with a win against Benfica on Nov. 27. Lyon is second on seven points after beating last-placed Benfica 3-1 in Tuesday’s other game.