Riyad Mahrez scores historic Champions League goal – but Manchester City can only draw with RB Leipzig

Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City looks on during the UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg match between RB Leipzig and Manchester City at the Red Bull Arena on 22 February, 2023 in Leipzig, Germany.
(Image credit: Lexy Isley – Manchester City via Getty Images)

Riyad Mahrez made history by becoming just the fifth African player to score 20 Champions League goals, but Manchester City (opens in new tab) were held to a 1-1 draw by RB Leipzig (opens in new tab) in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.

Mahrez gave City the lead midway through the first half at the Red Bull Arena, 24 hours after Mo Salah had equalled Didier Drogba as the Champions League's all-time top African goalscorer in Liverpool (opens in new tab)'s 5-2 thrashing by Real Madrid (opens in new tab).

Sadio Mane and Samuel Eto'o complete the exclusive club, whose members have all been champions of Europe – with the exception of Mahrez, who came closest when City finished as runners-up to Chelsea in 2021. 

The Algerian's goal, set up by Ilkay Gundogan, was his third in the Champions League this term and his 12th in all competitions.

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But that was as good as it got for Pep Guardiola's visitors, who controlled the opening 45 minutes without needing to get out of second gear but failed to step it up in response to Leipzig's resurgence after the break.

The much-improved Bundesliga side wasted a string of promising opportunities early in the second half, before Josko Gvardiol's towering header from a Marcel Halstenberg corner levelled things up in the 70th minute.

It's the first time that City have failed to win the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie since 2014 – when they were beaten 2-1 by Barcelona (opens in new tab), eventually losing 3-1 on aggregate.

The second leg at the Etihad Stadium takes place on Tuesday, 14 March.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...