RB Leipzig advanced to the Europa League semi-finals after Christopher Nkunku helped his side to a 2-0 win against Atalanta.
Atalanta started the brightest but it was Leipzig who broke the deadlock through Nkunku for his 29th goal of the season in all competitions.
Konrad Laimer broke forward and did excellently to lose his man, before pulling a cross back to Nkunku who - in his form - was never going to miss, as his close-range effort clipped the post before nestling into the net.
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There was a huge penalty shout early in the second half from the Atlanta players, after a free kick on the edge of the box ricocheted off of the hand of a Leipzig player in the wall. The referee was nudged to go to the monitor by VAR, but refreshingly stuck with his original verdict of no penalty.
Atalanta threw everything at the Leipzig goal in search of an equaliser, but failed to cancel out Nkunku’s opener as the German side secured their place in the last four with a second from the Frenchman who sealed a 2-0 win, and the German side will face either Rangers or Sporting Braga in the semi-final.
TALKING POINT - LEIPZIG INTO THE SEMI-FINALS
This quarter-final was probably 50/50, with both sides able to produce magnificent football which offered a mouth-watering tie. However, after a score draw in the first leg, it was Leipzig who had their heads screwed on this time around to produce a performance on the night good enough to secure their place in the last four.
This was helped by the red-hot form of Nkunku, who netted a brace on the night for his second and third Europa League goals of the campaign. They will now wait for the outcome of tonight’s later match between Rangers and Sporting Braga to determine who they’ll battle it out with for a final spot in Seville.
MAN OF THE MATCH - CHRISTOPHER NKUNKU (RB LEIPZIG)
There was only ever one option. Nkunku fired RB Leipzig into the Europa League semi-finals with another brace that takes his goal tally for the season up to number 30. His second goal was dispatched from the spot - and despite becoming a Leipzig record-breaker in front of goal tonight - was surprisingly only his second penalty this season, maintaining his 100% record from 12 yards out.
He produces from all over the pitch and makes himself so hard to mark. He’s recognised in a line-up as a striker, but he’s never where you’d think he would be as he floats around the pitch all evening. That tactic probably has something to do with his 47 goal contributions this season.
ATALANTA: Musso 5, De Roon 5, Demiral 7, Palomino 6, Zappacosta 6, Hateboer 7, Koopmeiners 6, Freuler 5, Malinovskyi 6, Boga 6, Zapata 7
Subs: Muriel 5, Pasalic N/A, Scalvini 5, Miranhcuk 5
RB LEIPZIG: Gulacsi 7, Simakan 6, Orban 6, Gvardiol 6, Henrichs 7, Kampl 6, Laimer 7, Angelino 7, Olmo 6, Nkunku 8, Andre Silva 7
Subs: Poulsen N/A, Halstenberg N/A, Adams 5, Klostermann 5, Szoboszlai 5
18’ - GOAL! ATALANTA 0-1 RB LEIPZIG (NKUNKU) - 1-2 AGG: And it's that man Christopher Nkunku! Laimer bombs forward and does excellently to lose his man, before pulling a cross back to Nkunku who - in his form - was never going to miss. Advantage Leipzig!
53’ - NO PENALTY! The referee was sent to the monitor, which usually means the on-field decision will be overturned, but he sticks to his original verdict and waves it away again!
86’ - PENALTY LEIPZIG! Nkunku is wiped out by Musso and the referee points to the spot!
87’ - GOAL! ATALANTA 0-2 RB LEIPZIG (NKUNKU) - 1-3 AGG: Leipzig will advance! Nkunku makes it 3-1 on aggregate.
Christopher Nkunku has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season, becoming the second RB Leipzig player to reach that mark within a single season since the side’s promotion to the Bundesliga after Timo Werner in 2019-20 (34). (Opta).
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