Leipzig advances after late CL comeback to draw with Benfica
LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) — At 2-0 down in the 90th minute, Emil Forsberg and Leipzig were just getting started.
Two late goals from the Sweden winger salvaged a 2-2 draw with Benfica on Wednesday and secured a spot for Leipzig in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time.
Benfica was leading 2-0 when Ruben Dias conceded a penalty, allowing Forsberg to score his first goal in the 90th minute.
With nine minutes of added time announced following an earlier injury for Leipzig’s goalkeeper, the German hosts threw players forward and was rewarded in the 96th minute when Timo Werner’s cross found Forsberg in space to head in and level the score.
“Reaching the knockout stages for the first time in the club’s history means that we’re doing the right things and moving in the right direction,” Forsberg said. “We have a fantastic team with a lot of young players who have a lot of potential.”
Earlier, Benfica had scored both goals after errors in defense from Leipzig.
Pizzi opened the scoring in the 20th when Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano failed to intercept a pass and the ball bounced off his heel. A stumble from Lukas Klostermann left the way open for Carlos Vinicius to score the second in the 59th.
Worse, goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi went off with an apparent head injury after colliding with Vinicius as the Benfica player wheeled away in celebration. Coach Julian Nagelsmann said Gulácsi was “responsive and can remember everything” but the team would be cautious with his recovery.
Leipzig’s eventual comeback delighted home fans but they still needed substitute goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo to pull off a late save to protect the result.
When the referee finally blew the whistle after 101 minutes, it ended Benfica’s hopes of qualifying.
Zenit St. Petersburg beat Lyon 2-0 in the early Group G game Wednesday, and the Russian and French teams can still qualify in the final round of games on Dec. 10. Leipzig travels to Lyon, and Benfica hosts Zenit.
Drinks manufacturer Red Bull has been the financial engine for Leipzig’s rapid rise in recent years and it could yet boast two teams in the last 16 if Salzburg can qualify from a tough Group E also containing Napoli and Liverpool.