Josko Gvardiol’s equalizer helped Leipzig to snatch a 1-1 stalemate with Manchester City at the first leg of Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.
Both sides needed some time to gain a foothold into the clash with goal scoring opportunities were at premium in the opening stages.
The first real chance of the match also broke the deadlock on 27 minutes as Xaver Schlager’s misplaced pass allowed Ilkay Gundogan to set up for Riyad Mahrez, who made no mistake and hammered the ball from 14 meters into the top right corner.
The Citizens increased the pressure but couldn’t double their advantage as Rodrigo and Jack Grealish lacked in accuracy in front of the goal before the break.
Even after the restart, City set the tone as Mahrez’s attempt from 14 meters got blocked by Schlager in the last nick of time in the 50th minute.
Leipzig gradually assumed control and posed more danger through joker Benjamin Heinrichs, who headed on target in the 53rd minute before pulling wide from the edge of the box two minutes later.
The hosts gained momentum and created more opportunities as Andre Silva and Dominik Szoboszlai tested Manchester City’s goalkeeper Ederson in quick succession.
Leipzig’s efforts paid off with 70 minutes gone when Gvardiol nodded home a corner to make it 1-1 on the scoreboards.
City remained dangerous though and should have killed the game but neither Erling Haaland nor Gundogan was able to beat Leipzig custodian Janis Blaswich in the 73rd minute.
Both teams didn’t take any risks in the closing stages and settled for a share of the spoils at the first leg.
“We saw two different halves. In the first half we staged a poor performance. After the restart we stepped up and were able to create pressure,” said Leipzig coach Marco Rose.
“We are happy with the performance but disappointed by the result. We had control and didn’t add a second goal to our lead. Leipzig started powerful into the second half and levelled with a set piece,” said Manchester City midfielder Gundogan.
Leipzig travel to Manchester to clash with the Citizens for the second leg on March 14. ■