RB Leipzig marked their first appearance in the Champions League knockout round with a deserved 1-0 victory at last season’s runners-up Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday as their impressive season continued.
Timo Werner’s 58th-minute penalty after a foul by Ben Davies on Konrad Laimer was enough for Julian Nagelsmann’s Bundesliga side to take an advantage home for the second leg on March 10, although they might rue not putting the last-16 tie to bed.
Tottenham, without injured strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, were largely outplayed and will need the sort of heroics they produced away at Manchester City and Ajax Amsterdam last season to keep their European quest alive.
But for inspired keeper and captain Hugo Lloris and some wayward finishing from Leipzig, they would be facing an even tougher task in the return leg.
“Leipzig are a very, very good team with a lot of energy. We had some situations that we could have managed better,” Lloris said. “We’re not really happy with the result, but we did it last season — let’s hope we try to create another story.”
Tottenham did rally late on as Leipzig appeared to settle for a narrow win and the hosts came close to equalising with the impressive Giovani Lo Celso curling a free kick against the post and Lucas Moura heading over.
The first German club to play at Tottenham’s magnificent new stadium was Bayern Munich in October and they marked their visit with a 7-2 humiliation of their hosts.
Leipzig, who are one point behind leaders Bayern in the Bundesliga, attacked the Tottenham defence with similar relish and could have scored three times in the opening three minutes.
In a whirlwind opening, Patrik Schick fired wide before Angelino’s shot was deflected against the post by Lloris who seconds later blocked Werner’s shot from a tight angle.
It was pretty much the pattern of a first half in which Tottenham’s defence was stretched by the pace and incisive passing of Leipzig. Schick headed another chance wide and Lloris again denied the dangerous Werner.
Steven Bergwijn forced a fine save by Peter Gulacsi in a rare Tottenham attack while Dele Alli failed to connect with a header but the hosts’ attacks were few and far between.
Leipzig, formed only 10 years ago by drinks company Red Bull, got their noses ahead when Davies clumsily took out Laimer, giving Werner the chance to net his seventh goal in the competition this season, all away from home.
Tottenham were indebted to Lloris soon after as he produced a superb save to keep out Schick after Werner’s clever dummy.