MAN CITY 6, RB LEIPZIG 3
Manchester City hit Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig for six in a hugely impressive start to their latest Champions League campaign.
Pep Guardiola, in his 300th match as City manager, saw his side produced an irresistible attacking display to deliver a chilling message to the rest of Europe as they became the third quickest team to record 50 wins in the competition.
There were six different scorers – albeit one was an own goal – as Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus all found the net.
But City’s chief will not have been as happy with his side’s sloppy defending as Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick.
Nkunku, the former Paris St Germain player, became only the second player to Lionel Messi to score a treble against City in the competition.
City extended their unbeaten run in Champions League group games to 18, their last defeat at this stage against Lyon in September 2018.
And since Guardiola took charge, City have only lost three of their 30 games in the group stage.
Guardiola also reached another landmark as he overhauled Arsene Wenger to become third in the list of managers with most Champions League victories.
His total of 87 in behind Sir Alex Ferguson (102) and Carlo Ancelotti (90), the latter firmly in his sights.Embed from Getty Images
Grealish, making his first-ever appearance in the competition, said: “I loved it. I’ve been waiting a while. The past few weeks, I couldn’t wait for this game. It’s a great night.
“It was one of those games. It had absolutely everything. In the end we’re delighted to get the win against a good team full of energy and young players.
“I’m delighted to come away with the three points – and the goal and assist.
“The ball came to me and when I’m in that position, running into the area I’d back myself one on one against anyone to have a go and it paid off. I had a few in the first half that were blocked.
“I went to check the result from the other game [Club Bruges 1-1 PSG] and it shows anything can happen in the Champions League. It’s why it’s such a wonderful competition.
“With the music and everything [before the game] it was so nice.”
Guardiola praised City’s opponents: “Leipzig never give up. They have a special way to attack. They play all or nothing.
“You never have the feeling it’s over. We scored a few minutes after they scored [a few times] and it helped us a lot.
“They have a young team, so aggressive, so strong. A fantastic team. Leipzig give a good message to football. The quality of the players was better today and that’s why we won.
Kevin de Bruyne made his first start of the season, one of four changes from the side that started last time out at Leicester,
De Bruyne had been struggling with an ankle problem and had only played 11 minutes this season.
Also back in the side were Ake, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mahrez. Zinchenko was also making his first start of the campaign.
There was no Aymeric Laporte or John Stones through injury, while Kyle Walker, Jesus and İlkay Gundogan all dropped to the bench.
Leipzig, last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, included former Manchester City defender Angelino in their side.
Former Liverpool keeper Peter Gulacsi, who was part of the Hungary squad at Euro 2020, also started.
After an uneventful opening, City made a 16th minute breakthrough through Ake who became their 10th different scorer in the first five games.
Grealish delivered a corner for Ake to head home from six yards for only his second goal following his big-money move from Bournemouth.
Gulacsi got a firm hand to the header but could only divert it in off the underside of the crossbar.
Mahrez had a chanced to quickly double the lead but bent his shot narrowly wide.
City’s second in the 28th minute came from another unlikely source, Leipzig right back Mukiele.
De Bruyne’s cross from the right asked questions of the visiting defence and Mukiele, aware Grealish was completely free behind him, needed to make contact but only succeeded in heading past Gulacsi.
Leipzig’s Andre Silva, who scored 28 goals in 32 appearances for Eintract Frankfurt last season, had the ball in the City net, but it was ruled out for a clear offside.
City failed to heed that danger sign as Leipzig halved the deficit three minutes before the break.
Mukiele headed Emile Forsberg’s cross back across the face of goal for Nkunke to head past Ederson.
However, City restored their two-goal advantage in stoppage time when they won a penalty following a handball by Lukas Klostermann.
A VAR check proved inconclusive as Dutch referee Serdar Gozubuyuk was sent to the pitchside monitor. He awarded the kick and booked the defender before Mahrez scored from the spot, his fifth goal in his last five Champions League appearances and one more than in his previous 29 matches in the competition.
Leipzig scored again within five minutes of the restart in what was developing into an enthralling contest.
Dani Olmo crossed from the left and former French U21 international Nkunku, free at the near post, headed past Ederson.
City’s response was to quickly make it 4-2 with a stunning fourth goal.
A long, raking pass from Dias out of defence released Grealish on the left and he cut inside before bending a shot high past Gulacsi.
Grealish became the first English player to score on his Champions League debut since Marcus Rashford for Manchester United in September 2017.
There were five substitutions on the hour, three by Leipzig while City replaced Rodri and Bernardo Silva with Fernandinho and Gundogan.
City thought they had a fifth when Ferran Torres raced clear onto a Joao Cancelo long ball and rounded Gulacsi only for it to be ruled out by VAR for offside.
Guardiola made two further changes with little under 20 minutes left as De Bruyne and Torres were withdrawn for Phil Foden’s first appearance of the season and Raheem Sterling.
Nkunku completed his hat-trick in the 73rd minute as Leipzig refused to go away.
Released by Yussuf Poulsen, Nkunku fired home from a tight angle across the face of goal to reduced the deficit to 4-3 as it appeared game back on.
But within two minutes, City had restored their two-goal advantage through a 25-yard piledriver from Cancelo after good work by Grealish and Gundogan.
Leipzig’s hopes of another comeback were effectively ended with 12 minutes left when former City player Angelino was sent off for picking up a second yellow card.
City made their fifth and final change with nine minutes left, Gabriel Jesus replacing Grealish.
And City made their extra man pay as Jesus scored a sixth goal within four minutes of making his entrance.
Foden’s corner was cleared but the ball driven back into the area and following a scramble Jesus, making his 200th appearance for City, fired home from inside the six-yard box with VAR checking to see whether there was an offside.
It brought to an end a crazy game, one which will long be remembered by City fans who have witnessed 16 goals by their team on their last three visits.