Sports Desk, 4 Oct (EFE).- The Argentine striker’s goal and assist helped Manchester City to a 3-1 win over Leipzig and a 3-1 lead in Champions League Group G.
Julián Álvarez stopped the clock at Leipzig’s RB Arena. When the match was dying, and his team was about to add another blow, he grabbed the ball in the right corner of the German team’s box, glanced at the goal defended by Janis Blaswich, and curled a shot into the top corner of the German goal.
That was the end of Manchester City’s misery, who lived on the edge of their seats due to their inability to define a match that finally came to an end when, in stoppage time, Julián Álvarez came up with a good assist for Jérémy Doku to complete the job.
In just a few minutes, Julian Alvarez did what his teammates had failed to do, bogging down for the entire second half despite almost completely dominating a team that barely looked in Ederson’s sights.
The world champions ended an unpleasant uncertainty that had lasted nearly a week.
Pep Guardiola’s team faced a situation almost unheard of in recent years. For any standard team, losing two consecutive matches can cause concern.
Still, for a team like Manchester City, accustomed to winning almost every day, two defeats are synonymous with a crisis warning.
That was the case for City, who came into the game against Leipzig amid a run of results marked by a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle in the League Cup and a 2-1 loss to Wolves in the Premier League last weekend.
The immaculate start of the season was broken in just a few days, and the ‘citizens’ had to win against Leipzig.
Guardiola brought back Bernardo Silva and Rodri Hernández, two essential players who were unable to play against Wolves (the former due to injury and the latter due to suspension), and also went into ‘Champions’ mode with the appearance of starters who were reserved in the league.
Rico Lewis, Josko Gvardiol, and Jack Grealish completed a highly competitive eleven that minimized their opponents from minute one.
Leipzig were completely neutralized. Rodri gave total control to his team, which, in the first 45 minutes, accumulated over 80 percent possession.
Bernardo Silva provided the imagination his team needed from three-quarters forward. Rice became a perfect partner for the Portuguese, and Phil Foden, very sharp, was a constant nuisance to a very unsettled opposition.
On this occasion, City’s possession was active. They always carried the pace as they wanted and found space in the final third of the pitch.
In contrast to other occasions, when very long possessions without depth dominated City’s play, Leipzig suffered from the more dominant version of the English side.
Until the first and only goal of the first half, there were plenty of chances to open the scoring. Most of the time, Foden was the protagonist.
After a quarter of an hour, he was responsible for a cross-shot that Bernardo Silva failed to finish almost under the line; then, he tried with a shot from outside the area, and, finally, he scored the goal after finishing a great combination between Bernardo Silva and Rice.
Foden’s goal was the just reward for a great first half for City, who, however, received a tremendous blow three minutes after the restart. Loïs Openda, a good runner, took advantage of his first run into space to equalize in a one-on-one with Ederson. With a great assist between the lines, Poulsen set up his teammate to Guardiola’s despair.
City reacted well. There was a second of frustration, but they were soon back in complete control of the game, just as they had been in the first half. Faced with the abuse, Leipzig had no choice but to sit back and wait for another miraculous counter-attack to finish off a team that deserved much more.
Foden was the most insistent man. Once again, he monopolized almost all the action until he left the field of play with ten minutes to go. Julián Álvarez replaced him, but before that, he left a spectacular cross from the left flank that Erling Haaland failed to finish when he had everything in his favor and a free kick that crashed against the crossbar of the goal defended by Blaswich.
If Foden was the best before the appearance of Julian Alvarez, Haaland lived a fateful night. All his shots were erratic.
Only one was on target, the one he attempted with half an hour to go and which was met with a saving hand from Blaswich. Less predatory than ever, his team was affected by the lack of a nose for goal, especially in a last chance Raum saved when he was about to finish the job against Blaswich.
Then Julian Alvarez came on. With two pecks, he managed to do justice to a scoreline that would have been very cruel for City in the event of a draw. The Argentine silenced the critics, and Guardiola smiled. City returned to winning ways.
— Technical details:
1 – Leipzig: Blaswich; Klostermann, Simakan, Lukeba, Raum; Simons, Schlager, Seiwald (Haidara, min. 85), Forsberg (Sesko, min. 70); Openda (Werner, min. 70) and Poulsen (Baumgartner, min. 75).
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Akanji (Doku, min. 72), Rúben Dias, Gvardiol; Rodri, Lewis; Foden (Julián Álvarez, min. 79), Bernardo Silva, Grealish (Aké, min. 72); and Haaland.
Goals: 0-1, min. 25: Foden; 1-1, min. 48: Openda; 1-2, min. 82: Julián Álvarez; 1-3, min. 93: Doku.
Referee: Artur Dias (Portugal). Showed yellow cards to Akanji (min. 66) for Manchester City and to Schlager (min. 73) and Raum (min. 78) for Leipzig.
Incidents: match corresponding to the second matchday of the Champions League Group G played at the RB Arena in front of nearly 40,000 spectators. The players of both teams wore black armbands in tribute to Francis Lee, the former Manchester City player who passed away on Monday at the age of 79. EFE