Red Bull Leipzig’s first ever Champions League appearance will not go down in history as one of the most exciting games the competition has ever seen, but no one in Saxony will be complaining about that.
A 1-1 draw at home to Monaco, a first point on the board and a solid performance will be more than enough for the RB fans.
At the very least, they got to celebrate their club’s first ever Champions League goal, when Emil Forsberg put them ahead in the first half. The Swede, who had pushed for a move away from the club this summer, has now indelibly written himself into its short history.
Monaco striker Youri Tielemans denies Champions League new-boys Red Bull Leipzig an opening day win
Emil Forsberg opened the scoring just after 30 minutes for the Champions League newcomers
Monaco came into the game with a new-look side to the team that reached last season’s semi-final after summer poaching
That Forsberg’s opener was quickly cancelled out by a Youri Tielemans equaliser was no tragedy, merely an irritation, as this was the evening where RB Leipzig announced themselves in the very highest echelons of European football.
After a blistering rise from the non-league in 2009 to second place in the Bundesliga last season, they have become unavoidable, if no less controversial, in Germany.
Their eagerly awaited Champions League debut was to be the first step on the way to international acclaim.
Balde Keita, who will join Liverpool next summer for a pre-arranged fee of around £70m, cut an unhappy figure on the sidelines ahead of kick-off.
He, more than anyone, is responsible for bringing Leipzig to the Champions League, and his absence was a bitter note on a night of celebrations.
The home side were making their Champions League debut after taking the Bundesliga by storm last season finishing second
Forsberg celebrates his opening goal against Monaco and his team’s first ever Champions League goal
But his celebrations were short-lived after Monaco forward Youri Tielemans netted the equaliser just two minutes later
The Frenchman managed to scramble the ball over the line while battling with RB goalkeeper Peter Gulasci
Liverpool-bound Balde Keita was reduced to an appearance as a substitute and the £70million man couldn’t impact the game
Starting XI: Gulacsi; Klostermann, Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Sabitzer, Demme, Ilsanker, Forsberg (Kampl, 63); Poulsen (Augustin, 80), Werner
Subs not used: Mvogo, Bernardo, Bruma, Kaiser, Laimer
Goals: Forsberg, 32;
Yellow cards: Demme, 26; Halstenberg, 72
Starting XI: Benaglio; Toure, Glik, Jemerson; Jorge, Sidibe (Ghezzal, 84), Fabinho, Joao Moutinho, Diakhaby (Keita, 74); Tielemans, Falcao (Carrillo, 89)
Subs not used: Sy, Jovetic, Balde, Raggi
Goals: Tielemans, 34;
Yellow cards: Tielemans, 10; Sidibe, 81; Jemerson, 87
Referee: Michael Oliver (England)
The team could certainly have done with his penetrative potential in a cagey first 30 minutes. Though they saw more of the ball, the incisiveness which served Leipzig so well last season was nowhere to be seen in the opening half hour.
If Leipzig were struggling to break the Monaco bulwark, they were making life equally difficult at the other end. Time and time again, Djibril Sidibé and Adama Diakhaby looked to break on the wings, but were hunted down by a tireless back-line.
Yet with two teams who always seek the most direct route to goal, that was never going to last. Just after the half hour mark, Emil Forsberg found space on the left, and rifled the ball past Diego Benaglio at the near post.
The ecstasy of taking the lead seemed to shake Leipzig’s concentration. Moments later, Sidibé had whipped in a deep cross for Diakhaby, and he and Youri Tielemans conspired to bundle in the equaliser.
Timo Werner, who had already come close earlier in the half, should have restored the lead just before the break, coming inches away from connecting with a Yussuf Poulsen cross.
Werner’s darting brilliance has electrified both RB and the national team in recent months, and sparked rumours of interest from Real Madrid.
As the game wore on, he looked more and more keen to make his mark, picking up two big chances just after half-time.
Both sides, though, were struggling for inspiration as the second half wore on. With the pace slowing, the handful of Monaco fans who had made the journey to Leipzig hogged the limelight, winding through the empty away stand in a conga line.
Jean-Kévin Augustin twice came close to snatching the three points late on, but was first denied by Benaglio and then by the English linesman Stuart Burt.
In the end, a point apiece appeared to be a just result. It may have been cagey, and it may not have been a win, but it was nonetheless a successful first foray into Champions League life for Leipzig.
‘We are here to stay, we are here to write history,’ goes the line in the club’s official song. Tonight, RB had made history just by turning up. Crucially, they also showed their potential to stay in the Champions League for the long haul.
Leipzig and Monaco sit second and third respectively in group G while Besiktas stole the spoils at Porto
Monaco head coach Jardim Leonardo was looking for a reaction from his team who were thrashed 4-0 by Nice on Saturday
And his supporters were few and far between and appeared to not fancy the short trip across the boarder to Germany
Leipzig came close to snatching the opening game points from their visitors when Timo Werner struck past the post
But it proved too little too late for Leipzig, who will travel to Turkey to face Besiktas on match day two