After their 5-1 aggregate win in the second qualifying round over Swedish side BK Hacken, RB Leipzig set themselves up for success in the 3rd qualifying round with a 3-1 first leg victory over Romanian side Universitatea Craiova. Die Roten Bullen took advantage of playing at home to remain undefeated in their Europa League campaign so far.
The German side started out brightly before getting the opening goal. Kevin Kampl’s corner to the near post was met by Ibrahima Konate who nodded it home in the 25th minute. Corners would be a theme for the entire match for Leipzig, who had 16 of them during the 90 minutes. Craiova almost found a response before the half as a long ball over the top forced keeper Yvon Mvogo to come out a long way, but he was able to get enough of the ball to end the danger.
The second half saw the hosts continue to control the ball and tempo. They found their second in the 77th minute as newcomer Matheus Cunha was able to tap in a centering pass from Yussuf Poulsen. The 19-year-old Cunha arrived in the summer from Swiss side Sion and has been playing well. He scored once and assisted on another in Leipzig’s 1st leg match against Hacken. Considering the 15 million euros investment the club made in the striker, it’s good for him to get some early goals and show the club that their belief in him was justified.
Ten minutes later Poulsen made it three for Leipzig as a free kick crashed off the bar and landed at his feet for what will be a candidate for his easiest goal of the season. However, the Romanian side do have some hope in the 2nd leg as a quick counter saw a cross land at the feet of Ivan Martic. His volley caught the back line and Mvogo off guard and give the Romanian side a lifeline heading into the return leg.
The second leg will be played on August 16th in Craiova, roughly 3 hours from Bucharest. The club will also be keeping an eye on another matchup in the 3rd qualifying round. Should Leipzig advance, they would face the winner between Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk and Sporting Braga of Portugal for a spot in the Group stage. That matchup is currently 1-1 with the second leg to take place in Portugal.