Thursday night’s performance at Sporting CP’s Estádio José Alvalade against Atlético Madrid will be fondly remembered by RB Leipzig fans. As a result, Leipzig became the first east German club to reach a European semi-final since Lokomotive Leipzig in 1986/87 after defeating the team that knocked out the reigning European champions, Liverpool, in the previous round.
For Wappingers Falls native, Tyler Adams, it will likely be a night he never forgets. More notorious for his relentless defensive performances, the New York Red Bulls academy graduate found himself in the right place at the right time to score an 88th-minute winner and become the first American to score in a Champions League quarter-final and help Leipzig become the first team to knock out Diego Simeone’s side out of the competition without the assistance of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Speaking to RB Leipzig’s YouTube channel following the qualification for the semi-finals, Adams explained the goal that created history for the club:
“A little bit unexpected, to say the least. But I found myself in a wide position and as soon as I saw Angel[iño] get the ball, I just started to burst forward because I found a little bit of space. And we knew in these types of games, especially with no fans, the game starts to open up a little bit, so I took the space and Angel found me perfectly, and just took a good touch and I hit it, on target, and it deflected in. So, it counts as a goal and we’re happy to move onto the next round.”
When asked what went through his head as he saw the ball deflect past Jan Oblak and into the net, the 21-year-old responded:
“Full excitement. Initially, my first reaction was we’re going to the semi-finals of the Champions League, but at the same time I had to realise we had to focus on the last five minutes of the game because with all the added time and a couple of injuries throughout the game, we knew that the referee was going to prolong the game for as long as possible. The whistle didn’t quite go yet but I was excited that we were ahead a goal now.”
Awaiting Die Roten Bullen in the semi-finals is the star-studded line-up of Paris Saint-Germain, who managed to scrape past Atalanta with two second-half stoppage-time winners. Despite having to face the likes of Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, Adams is confident Leipzig can progress.
“Some guys I’ve actually played against already with the national team, Brazil and France, so we know how talented they are, of course, but we know we have a talented team and we’re confident in our abilities. The motivation is great. We’re playing for each other right now, and there is eleven guys that go on the field every single day and compete for one another, so we know with that mindset we are obviously a tough team to beat.“