RB Leipzig broke through the best defense in the Bundesliga and continued to catch up. In the last home game of the year, the Saxons won 3-1 (0-0) against SC Freiburg in a new edition of the DFB Cup final and thus recorded the twelfth game in a row without defeat.
Mohamed Simakan (55th) scored the lead in front of 41,240 fans on Wednesday after Leipzig had previously hit aluminum four times. His French compatriot Christopher Nkunku followed up just over a minute later. Lukas Kübler (66th) made the connection with a dream goal before Emil Forsberg (78th) converted a foul penalty. Leipzig climbed to fifth, Freiburg, who had conceded just 13 goals, slipped to third.
“Overall, the performance was just not good enough,” said SC professional Nicolas Höfler, who caused the penalty by an alleged foul, on Sky. The referee’s whistle was an “absolute joke”, criticized Höfler. He classified the double strike for the 2-0 lead of Leipzig as decisive: “If it stays at 1-0, everything is still possible.”
Freiburg coach Christian Streich was also angry. “If there’s a touch, why whistle? You have someone who can tell you that,” he alluded to possible interference from the video assistant for the referee.
RB coach Marco Rose had to reorganize his starting eleven shortly before the game started. Abdou Diallo, scheduled for central defence, felt a knee pain during the warm-up and was replaced by Josko Gvardiol, who was supposed to be rested. Compared to the 3-1 at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, coach Marco Rose also surprised on the left-back position. A day before the announcement of the World Cup squad by national coach Hansi Flick, David Raum sat on the bench for the first time in a month at the start. Marcel Halstenberg started for him. In addition, Lukas Klostermann was back in the squad after the national player had been out for three months due to a syndesmosis ligament rupture.
Nkunku to the post
“It’s a big task ahead of us. We need a great day and maybe a bit of luck,” Streich warned before the game and initially left Vincenzo Grifo out. Killiann Sildillia came on for the Italian international. Otherwise, Freiburg’s coach trusted the team that defeated Cologne 2-0 last Sunday.
At the end of the quarter of an hour, his team was lucky not to fall behind early on. After a quick free-kick, Christopher Nkunku (16′) cleverly lifted Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken, but only hit the post. Shortly thereafter, the hosts suffered the next personnel setback. Gvardiol and his captain Willi Orban banged their heads. The Croatian, who was nominated for his country’s World Cup team, had to leave the field bleeding and was taken to hospital for further tests. He was replaced in the 23rd minute by Benjamin Henrichs, who had been suspended for the last time, and took over the right flank in the defense, which had to be changed again, while Mohamed Simakan moved into the centre.
Undeterred by the Gvardiol failure, cup winners Leipzig acted aggressively as usual. But both Andre Silva (24′) and Henrichs (28′) shot wide of the Freiburg goal from similar positions. The guests tried to tame the attacking power of the Champions League round of 16 tactically and with passion, but did not come up with any offensive actions themselves. Leipzig is different: In the 38th minute, Orban hit the post with his head, as did Dominik Szoboszlai a minute later when trying to convert a corner kick directly.
The border around the Freiburg goal was also the inspiration for the 1-0: After a Szoboszlai corner, Nkunku headed onto the crossbar and Simakan sunk the rebounding ball powerfully from close range. Less than two minutes later, the outstanding Nkunku, who had just been nominated for France’s World Cup squad, made things seemingly clear with his twelfth goal of the season to make it 2-0. But with a solid volley from the edge of the penalty area, Kübler overcame Leipzig goalkeeper Janis Blaswich to make it 1-2. Forsberg, however, sealed Leipzig’s success with a converted penalty after a foul on Nkunku.