RB Leipzig 1-1 Bayern Munich: Halstenberg goal earns draw as Bundesliga returns
Bayern Munich were pegged back by RB Leipzig as the Bundesliga returned with an entertaining 1-1 draw on Friday.
Marcel Halstenberg struck in the 52nd minute at Red Bull Arena to draw third-placed Leipzig level against the league leaders.
Julian Nagelsmann had seen his team take the lead against his former club eight minutes before half-time, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting picking up where he left off before the World Cup break.
Bayern were lucky ex-Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano stayed on the pitch after a rash challenge on Dominik Szoboszlai, but the visitors’ run of 10 successive wins in all competitions came to a halt regardless.
Jamal Musiala was a rare bright spot for Germany in Qatar, and the teenager teed up the first chance when he played in Serge Gnabry, whose shot was deflected against the post by another World Cup star Josko Gvardiol.
Leon Goretzka thought he had nosed Bayern ahead when he nodded in from Choupo-Moting’s flick-on, but the goal was disallowed for Matthijs de Ligt straying offside in the build-up, with the VAR upholding the linesman’s decision.
Bayern were not to be denied the lead, though, with Choupo-Moting turning in his seventh Bundesliga goal of the season after meeting Gnabry’s pinpoint left-wing cross.
Yann Sommer had little to do in the first half, but the Bayern debutant was picking the ball out of his net seven minutes after the restart.
Joshua Kimmich’s slack pass put Bayern in trouble, with the champions failing to clear their lines and eventually allowing Halstenberg to prod home from close range despite appeals for a foul in the build-up.
Upamecano was fortunate to escape a red card when he scythed down Szoboszlai and appeared to be the last defender, yet Bayern made their luck count to come away with a point.
What does it mean? Bundesliga back with a bang
There was a 68-day break between the last Bundesliga match in November and this fixture; that is the longest the competition has been halted for during a season since the 1996-97 campaign (69 days), even when accounting for the coronavirus-enforced shutdown in 2020 (66 days).
Perhaps understandably, there was some rustiness on show from both teams, evidenced by them combining for only five shots on target, but it was nevertheless an enthralling contest, if lacking the cutting edge shown in a 5-3 win for Bayern in the DFL-Supercup back in July.
Bayern will be happy to come away with a point that keeps Leipzig six points back, although second-placed Freiburg would close to within two points of the champions should they beat Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Career-best season for Choupo-Moting
Choupo-Moting has now scored 12 goals across all competitions this season for Bayern, which represents the best tally of his career.
The 33-year-old had gone from back-up player to guaranteed starter even before Sadio Mane’s injury prior to the World Cup, and he continued that form on Friday.
His close-range finish also brought up Bayern’s 50th league goal of the season in just their 16th match. Only Bayern themselves have scored 50 goals in the competition in fewer games in a single season, hitting the milestone in 15 matches in the 1976-77 campaign.
Upamecano counts his blessings
Leipzig’s players had every right to feel aggrieved when their former team-mate Upamecano was booked rather than sent off in the 66th minute.
His lunge on Szoboszlai was desperate, but the officials seemingly deemed Matthijs de Ligt would have been able to stop the Hungary international, who was around 40 yards from goal but running into open space.
In fairness, it was a rare mistake from the France defender, who otherwise played well, leading Bayern in tackles (four), clearances (five), passes (107) and touches (126), although he did lose possession 22 times.
Key Opta Facts
– Leipzig have won just one of their 16 competitive games against Bayern (D6 L9) – 2-1 at home in the Bundesliga in March 2018.
– Since Marco Rose took charge of Leipzig in early September, they and Bayern have both picked up 24 points in the Bundesliga, more than any other club.
– Bayern attempted only seven shots. Under Nagelsmann, they have attempted so few only in a 3-1 defeat to Mainz last April. They have never attempted fewer shots in a competitive match under this coach.
Bayern host Koln on Tuesday, while Leipzig visit struggling Schalke.
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