LEIPZIG, Germany (AP)Leipzig defeated Manchester City 2-1 in their final Champions League group game on Tuesday to ensure a Europa League playoff place in the team’s first match since firing American coach Jesse Marsch.
Goals in either half from Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva meant Leipzig finished third in Group A, though the German team also had the benefit of a favor from Paris Saint-Germain, which defeated Brugge 4-1 in the other group game to ensure the Belgians finished bottom with four points.
Riyad Mahrez pulled one back in the 77th minute for City, but a prospective equalizer was made harder when Kyle Walker was sent off in the 83rd for kicking Silva’s legs from behind when the Portugal forward was sheltering the ball.
Former assistant Achim Beierlorzer recovered from COVID-19 in time to take over as interim coach for the game following Marsch’s dismissal on Sunday. It’s Beierlorzer’s second stint as interim coach.
Both PSG and Man City were already through to the Champions League last 16. City was already assured of topping the group before its trip to Leipzig, and manager Pep Guardiola used the occasion to rest some of his players after seven wins in a row across all competitions.
Guardiola made seven changes to the team that defeated Watford 3-1 over the weekend with American goalkeeper Zack Steffen starting in place of regular No. 1 Ederson, while the likes of Fernandinho, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne also started.
Grealish missed the best early chance when he fired over after being set up by Foden, before Szoboszlai opened the scoring in the 24th after a brilliant through ball from Konrad Laimer. Szoboszlai stayed cool to take the ball past Steffen before slotting into the empty net.
Foden struck the post and De Bruyne drew a good save from Peter Gulacsi before the break.
However, City lacked urgency with nothing but pride at stake, and Silva settled the issue in the 71st.
Mahrez was left free at the back post to head City’s answer, but Walker’s sending off could have a bigger impact. The full-back will miss City’s first knockout game in the competition.
Leipzig booked its place in the two-legged Europa League playoffs in February against one of the competition’s eight group runners-up for a place in that tournament’s knockout stage.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports