After losing only one of their last 17 UCL matches against German opposition, incidentally coming against Leipzig in December 2021, Manchester City began the contest as the likelier to score the game’s opening goal as Rúben Dias headed straight at Janis Blaswich. Having already tasted victory over defending UCL champions Real Madrid at the Red Bull Arena in the group stages of this season's competition, Leipzig struggled to pose a threat in the final third, as Ederson remained an observant but alert figure in the City goal.
Showing no ill effects of losing their position at the top of the Premier League standings following a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest, City’s dominance paid dividends in the 27th minute, as Jack Grealish seized upon Xaver Schlager’s mistimed pass before setting up İlkay Gündogan to slot in Riyad Mahrez to fire beyond Blaswich. Pursuing a second goal before the HT interval, an inspired Grealish wasted a golden opportunity as the England international fired over the bar from the edge of the area.
Without a goal in their last three UCL knockout stage encounters before kick-off, Leipzig should have been level in the 53rd minute, only for HT substitute Benjamin Henrichs to fire two gilt-edged opportunities wide of Ederson’s goal. With a newly-found belief, Leipzig’s were rewarded for their endeavour in the 70th minute when defender Joško Gvardiol majestically rose above the City defence to authoritatively head Marcel Halstenberg’s cross home from close-range. Pursuing an immediate response, Leipzig were left indebted to Blaswich, as the Red Bulls’ shot-stopper instinctively diverted Gündogan’s strike away from the ever-so-reliable boot of the fast-approaching Erling Haaland.
A draw in Germany sets up the second leg in Manchester nicely, as Leipzig extend their H2H European record against Premier League clubs to four matches unbeaten. Meanwhile, Manchester City's concerning away form continues domestically and in Europe after registering only one victory in their last six games.
Flashscore Man of the Match: Jack Grealish (Manchester City)
With Inter bidding to make it to the UCL quarter-finals for the first time in over a decade, it’s perhaps unsurprising that they didn’t throw caution to the wind early on against the in-form visitors. Lautaro Martínez and Hakan Çalhanoğlu still had chances for the hosts with a miscued header and a cheeky effort at the near post, but the best opportunities came towards the end of the half.
Porto fired the first warning shot as Marko Grujić paid the price for choosing power over precision from close range, seeing his low strike saved before Galeno headed the rebound off target. They were let off the hook by their goalkeeper, Diogo Costa, in first-half stoppage time as a superb reflex save left Alessandro Bastoni baffled as to how his point-blank header didn’t find the net.
The pendulum continued to swing one way and then the other after the break as Nicolò Barella and Mehdi Taremi traded half-chances. The impressive Inter goalkeeper, André Onana, then wowed the San Siro with a spectacular double save before Porto were dealt a hammerblow by referee Srdjan Jovanovic, who showed Otávio a second yellow card for a late challenge on Çalhanoğlu. Fresh from the bench, Lukaku capitalised by converting his own rebound after a towering header struck the upright.
Victory leaves Inter unbeaten in six and manager Simone Inzaghi has every chance of closing out the show against former team-mate and opposite number Sérgio Conceição in the return fixture on March 14. The Porto boss has his own incentives to prevail, having spent two seasons with the Nerazzurri during his playing days.
Flashscore Man of the Match: André Onana (Inter Milan)