Tottenham are facing an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals after they suffered a 1-0 loss to RB Leipzig in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Timo Werner scored from the penalty spot in the 58th minute after Ben Davies had fouled Konrad Laimer, but the final score could have been far worse for Jose Mourinho’s side had the visitors converted a string of early chances.
RB Leipzig were totally dominant in the first half, pinning the hosts back and carving them open repeatedly, only to be thwarted by a combination of their own wasteful finishing and Hugo Lloris’s sharp reflexes.
Spurs did improve after Werner finally broke the deadlock, with Giovani Lo Celso going closest when his curling free kick was tipped onto the post by RB Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, but it was too little too late, leaving them with a major task to overturn the deficit in next month’s second leg.
How Leipzig Gain Advantage
Spurs were pegged back right from the start, with Patrick Schick firing Leipzig’s first effort wide after only 30 seconds. Less than two minutes after that, Davinson Sanchez blocked a Werner effort into the path of on-loan Manchester City defender Angelino, whose diagonal effort bounced onto the post off Lloris.
It was a lucky escape for Spurs, and Lloris then pulled off another fine save to deny Werner from close-range, albeit before the Leipzig striker was flagged for offside.
Spurs, without Heung-Min Son for the first time since he suffered a fractured arm, responded by creating their only meaningful opportunity of the half, when Steven Bergwijn collected Lo Celso’s pass in the Leipzig box, cut inside and forced a fine, one-handed stop from Gulacsi.
But Leipzig were immediately on the front foot again, with Schick drilling another low effort straight at Lloris before sending a header narrowly wide from a corner.
Werner was next to go close as the slick visitors continued to pin Spurs back and dominate possession, but he could not quite connect with Angelino’s low cross and soon after that he was denied by Lloris again when he was left unmarked on the left-hand side of the Spurs box.
Those misses allowed Spurs to reach half-time with the scores still goalless despite having just 34 per cent of the possession and attempting only three shots to Leipzig’s 12.
But it did not take long for Leipzig to make the breakthrough their dominance deserved. Davies’s foul on Laimer was clumsy and Werner made no mistake with the penalty, slamming a low effort to Lloris’s right.
Spurs were indebted to Lloris for making another fine save from Schick soon after that, and they were unable to make their late pressure count at the other end of the pitch.
After Lo Celso had struck the post, substitute Erik Lamela forced another save from Gulacsi with a free kick from a similar position and Lucas Moura sent a header narrowly over the bar.
But time soon ran out for Spurs, who will go to the Red Bull Arena on March 10 needing a much-improved performance if they are to claim a place in the last eight of the competition.