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2022-23 UEFA Champions League, Group Stage
  • Christopher Nkunku (10')
  • André Silva (50')
  • Dominik Szoboszlai (62')
  • Valeriy Bondar (68' OG)

RB Leipzig cruise past Shakhtar to reach Champions League last 16

Christopher Nkunku celebrates after scoring a goal for RB Leipzig against Shakhtar in the Champions League. Getty Images

Christopher Nkunku scored one goal and set up another as RB Leipzig crushed Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 on Wednesday to qualify for the Champions League last 16 in style, while the Ukrainians dropped down to the Europa League.

Leipzig, who only needed a point to advance to the knockout stage, smashed three quickfire second-half goals to secure second place in Group F behind Real Madrid and join fellow Bundesliga clubs Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt in the next round.

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Leipzig finished with 12 points, six ahead of Shakhtar in third. Holders Real retained top spot with 13 points after their 5-1 home win over bottom side Celtic.

Marco Rose's side took the lead in the 10th minute when Nkunku capitalised on a mistake from Shakhtar defender Heorhiy Sudakov to score his eighth goal in his last nine games in all competitions.

Sudakov lost the ball under pressure in midfield and Nkunku pounced, striding forward and laying it off for Timo Werner. The German striker's shot was saved by Shakhtar goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin but Nkunku was on hand to slot home the rebound.

Werner, who had another attempt saved by Trubin earlier, was forced off with 19 minutes on the clock and replaced by Emil Forsberg after picking up an ankle injury.

Five minutes into the second half, Mohamed Simakan headed the ball back into the box after David Raum's cross and it fell to Andre Silva, who doubled the visitors' advantage by prodding the ball home at the near post from a tight angle.

Nkunku kept his composure to set up Dominik Szoboszlai on the right with an audacious flick just after the hour mark, and the Hungarian winger rounded goalkeeper Trubin before firing into the unguarded net.

Substitute Dani Olmo, who replaced Szoboszlai, piled more misery on the hosts moments after coming on, taking a free kick short to Kevin Kampl before cutting back inside and whipping a shot into the far corner in the 68th minute, with his effort deflecting in off Shakhtar's Valeriy Bondar.