Hart howler helps Leipzig to Champions League win over Celtic
Leipzig, Germany, Oct 5, 2022 (AFP) - A blunder from Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart helped RB Leipzig to a 3-1 home win on Tuesday, their first Champions League victory of the season.
After a VAR check ruled out what looked to be a Leipzig goal, Hart's attempted pass went straight to Hungarian midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who slid the ball to Andre Silva to put the home side 2-1 up.
The goal broke Celtic's stubborn resistance, with Silva adding another goal 10 minutes later to put Leipzig two goals up and on course for their first points of the campaign.
Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku started the game strongly, shaking off midweek speculation he had already struck a deal to move to Premier League side Chelsea, heading the ball centimetres past the post with just over a minute played.
Leipzig's early buoyancy was however shattered just minutes later, with captain Peter Gulacsi stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury after a seemingly light challenge from a Celtic player.
Nkunku got Leipzig on the board after 27 minutes, rounding Hart to glide the ball into the net after collecting a long, curling assist from Silva.
In the dying stages of the first half, both Silva and former Chelsea man Timo Werner had chances to double the home side's lead, but it was Celtic who would strike next.
Just two minutes after half-time, Celtic went on the attack, with Japanese winger Kyogo Furuhashi countering right up the middle of the field before putting Jota into acres of space to slam home the equaliser.
Leipzig looked to have won back the lead in the 61st minute, when Szoboszlai unleashed a trademark stunner from outside the box.
However, the goal was ruled out after a lengthy VAR check found an offside Silva -- who swiftly dived out of the way when the ball came through -- had obscured Hart's view.
Just one minute later, however, the duo united to pounce on Hart's poor clearance, allowing Leipzig to reclaim the lead.
Silva scored his second of the night in the 77th minute to put the result beyond doubt.
Silva credited a "good environment" surrounding the side for his -- and Leipzig's -- recent turnaround in form.
"(Scoring goals) is important, like for all players, I try to score goals and I try to help the team - and with the help of my teammates, I try and work towards that," Silva said.
"It's most important to get a win -- and my first desire is to win for Leipzig."
Leipzig manager Marco Rose said he had "not exchanged any special words with Silva" to explain his recent uptick in form, but credited the Portuguese striker's work ethic.
"The conversation is always about Timo (Werner) and Cristo (Nkunku), but I've always said there are others here who work really hard.
"There was no special conversation between (Silva) and I."
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praised his team's first-half performance, but said their chances to win fell when the team switched to "safety mode".
"Players are people, at some point they will switch into some sort of safety mode -- but you can't play it safe at this level," Postecoglou told the post-match media conference.
"If you play in survival mode, that's all you'll get -- you'll survive, but you'll never really get anywhere."
When asked if Hart had apologised to his teammates for his error, the Australian coach snapped back: "That's not how football works, mate."
Leipzig have three points after three games while Celtic are bottom of the table with just one point.
After the game Rose said the result had "opened up the group for us".
"We have the chance, but it's up to us next week (against Celtic in Glasgow) to keep delivering."