On Matchday 20, RB Leipzig welcomed relegation fighting Hamburg to the Red Bull Arena in a game in which both sides were in need of a victory. Losing out to Freiburg last weekend, Leipzig could drop outside of the Champions League places should they fail to overcome this week’s opponent.
In response to the season-ending injury sustained by Halstenberg in training this week, Klostermann returned to the line-up for the first time this year, starting in an unfamiliar position. Following his suspension, Keïta began the game on the bench.
In the game’s first noteworthy piece of action, Leipzig took an early lead. Nipping the ball away from Aaron Hunt in the 8th minute, Kampl carried the ball into a dangerous area before moving it onto Sabitzer in a wide position. Putting too much weight onto his cross, Bruma does well to adjust his positioning before heading the ball past Mathenia into the net. In celebration, Bruma retrieved then raised a shirt with Halstenberg’s name and number on it as a sign of unity.
The early stages were a cagey affair as neither side could take a stronghold on the possession in the centre of the pitch. With a quarter of an hour on the clock, Leipzig should’ve extended their lead. Unable to clear a lofted pass from Demme, Papadopoulos sliced the ball into the path of Augustin. The Frenchman took a touch before firing his effort past the post.
Neither side were able to create a clear-cut opportunity for themselves, although Leipzig were able to sustain a period of possession. The host’s were able to manufacture a half-chance as Marcel Sabitzer tries his luck from inside the area, but his effort is struck directly at Mathenia.
Just before the half-hour mark, Hamburg struck gold with their first attempt on goal. Beaten to the ball by Bobby Wood, Upamecano was caught out of position which forced Orban to cover the teenager, but he too was beaten, this time by Gideon Jung, putting Filip Kostić one-on-one with Gulácsi, before rounding the goalkeeper and put his side back into the game, despite Laimer’s attempt to intervene.
The first half was a disappointing spectacle with not much to take note of. Leipzig were awarded a few set-pieces and created a couple of shooting opportunities, but nothing came from them as Hamburg held on going into the break.
Leipzig were to have the first significant opportunity of the second-half. Kevin Kampl managed to pick Sabitzer out with a beautiful weighted 35-yard pass, who, despite lifting the ball over the oncoming goalkeeper, he was forced wide and found his cross pushed out for a corner. The resulting set-piece was headed over by Willi Orban.
Hamburg came close to securing their second of the game, with only their second opportunity. Kostić had done well to create space for himself on the left and produce a cross. The ball eludes everyone but Bobby Wood who controls the ball on the turn from the penalty spot but Bruma does well to track back and prevent his side from going behind at home.
Even though Leipzig held the ball for a large part of the game, opportunities were hard to come by as Die Rothosen had done well to disrupt the flow of the game. It wouldn’t be until the 74th minute that the ball went near the visitor’s goal, as Laimer’s inswinging cross looped over the goalkeeper and onto the top of the net.
Two minutes later, a foul on Timo Werner caused an uproar among Leipzig’s player, as they surrounded the referee in an attempt to get Papadopoulos sent off for a second bookable offence. But to no prevail. Marcel Sabitzer stepped up to take the resulting set-piece and drilled the ball near post, forcing Mathania to get down quickly to produce a smart save and beat the ball to safety.
Other than a few half-chance from Kostić, the game wouldn’t ignite into life until stoppage time. Laimer dispossessed Arp on the half-way line, and within a few passes, the Austrian received the ball in the area, but his attempted shot was immediately blocked. Soon after, Upamecano tried his luck from distance, but despite the deflection, it was easily saved.
Leipzig’s late onslaught failed to secure a winner, granting Hamburg the opportunity to hold on to their first point of 2018. As a result, Leipzig remained 4th for less than 24 hours, before dropping to 5th, as Bayer Leverkusen gained all three points in their tie against Mainz 05.