Real Madrid secured a narrow 2-1 victory over RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie at the Red Bull Arena on Tuesday. The Spanish giants took the lead through Vinicius Junior in the first half, but the hosts equalized through Xavi Simons in the second half. However, Rodrygo scored the winner for Real Madrid in the dying minutes, giving them a crucial advantage ahead of the second leg.
Vinicius Junior Breaks the Deadlock
The game started with a high tempo and intensity, as both teams looked to create chances and impose their style of play. Real Madrid had more possession and control, while RB Leipzig relied on their pace and pressing to disrupt the visitors. The first clear opportunity came in the 15th minute, when Brahim Diaz found Vinicius Junior with a through ball, but the Brazilian winger’s shot was saved by Peter Gulacsi.
However, Vinicius Junior did not miss his second chance, as he opened the scoring in the 27th minute. The 22-year-old received a pass from Federico Valverde on the left flank, cut inside, and curled a low shot into the far corner, leaving Gulacsi with no chance. It was his fifth goal in the Champions League this season, and his 12th in all competitions.
Xavi Simons Levels the Score
RB Leipzig did not give up after conceding the first goal, and they continued to press and attack Real Madrid. The German side had a couple of chances to equalize before the break, but they were denied by Andriy Lunin, who was making his Champions League debut in the absence of the injured Thibaut Courtois. The Ukrainian goalkeeper made a brilliant save to keep out a header from Willi Orban in the 38th minute, and then tipped over a long-range shot from Dani Olmo in the 43rd minute.
The hosts finally got their reward in the 63rd minute, when they leveled the score through Xavi Simons. The 19-year-old midfielder, who joined RB Leipzig from Paris Saint-Germain in 2023, scored his first Champions League goal with a stunning strike from outside the box. Simons received a pass from Dominik Sesko, and unleashed a powerful shot that flew past Lunin and into the top corner.
Rodrygo Snatches the Winner
The game became more open and exciting after the equalizer, as both teams searched for the winning goal. RB Leipzig had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 77th minute, when Lois Openda was played through by Simons, but the Belgian striker’s shot was saved by Lunin’s leg. Real Madrid also had a chance to score in the 82nd minute, when Luka Modric set up Rodrygo with a clever pass, but the Brazilian forward’s shot was blocked by Mohamed Simakan.
However, Rodrygo did not miss his second chance, as he scored the winner for Real Madrid in the 89th minute. The 21-year-old received a cross from Carvajal on the right wing, and volleyed it into the bottom corner, beating Gulacsi at his near post. It was his fourth goal in the Champions League this season, and his ninth in all competitions.
Real Madrid Take a Slim Advantage
The final whistle blew after four minutes of added time, and Real Madrid celebrated their hard-fought victory over RB Leipzig. The result gives them a slim advantage ahead of the second leg, which will be played at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 8. However, RB Leipzig will still have a chance to turn the tie around, as they have an away goal and a strong record on the road.
The game was a thrilling and entertaining encounter, with both teams showing their quality and ambition. Real Madrid showed their experience and resilience, while RB Leipzig showed their potential and courage. The second leg promises to be another exciting and unpredictable clash, as both teams will fight for a place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.