Real Madrid punishes wasteful Leipzig to stay perfect

·3 min read

MADRID (AP) — As Leipzig wasted chance after chance, Real Madrid stayed calm.

It was just a matter of time before the defending European champions punished Leipzig for its wastefulness.

Madrid fended off Leipzig's good start and scored late goals with Federico Valverde and Marco Asensio to extend its perfect start to the season with a hard-fought 2-0 win in the group stage of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Valverde found the net from inside the area in the 80th minute and Asensio added to the lead in stoppage time to salvage Madrid's eighth victory in a row in all competitions.

In its first home game in the competition since winning a record 14th European title, Madrid had struggled from the start and failed to pose much of a threat against a tough Leipzig squad until Valverde opened the scoring.

The visitors created most of the scoring opportunities early on in the Group F match at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, with Christopher Nkunku and Timo Werner failing to capitalize on their chances for Leipzig.

“We are brutally disappointed,” Leipzig defender David Raum said. “We were able to make it an even game. If you take the lead, take it into the break, maybe something is possible for us. Them scoring with the first and second shot on goal is brutal, but that’s Real Madrid.”

Valverde got on the board with a curling left-footed shot after a pass across the area by Vinícius Júnior, and substitute Asensio sealed the victory with a low shot from the edge of the box after a free-kick pass by Toni Kroos.

“Leipzig is a good team,” said Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, whose handful of good saves kept Madrid with a clean sheet. “We didn’t create much in attack but we converted the chances we had.”

Madrid had only failed to score in one of its last 40 home matches in the group stage of the Champions League. It has kept seven clean sheets in its last nine Champions League group-stage matches.

Leipzig had not failed to score in its previous seven Champions League matches. It had kept only one clean sheet in its last 14 games in the European competition.

“We suffered in the first half but we were able to improve and control the game,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We came back from halftime with more energy.”

Madrid had won seven straight in all competitions, including the UEFA Super Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt to start the season. Five of its victories came by two or more goals, including the opening 3-0 victory at Celtic in the group stage of the Champions League last week.

Madrid was still without the injured Karim Benzema, the team’s best player last season. Ancelotti played with Valverde, Rodrygo and Vinícius up front, leaving Eden Hazard on the bench.

Kroos also started on the bench, with Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni starting in midfield along with Luka Modric. In defense, Ancelotti played with David Alaba as a left back and Nacho Fernández as a central defender along with Antonio Rüdiger.

It was the second Leipzig match with new coach Marco Rose, who replaced Domenico Tedesco after the team’s opening 4-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk at home. Leipzig defeated Borussia Dortmund in Rose’s debut in the Bundesliga at the weekend.

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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press