Naby Keita sent off for Mane-like high challenge in Leipzig’s draw

17 September 2017
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Naby Keita was sent off for a high boot in Leipzig’s 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday, after setting up his side’s second goal.


Keita returned to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s starting lineup at the Red Bull Arena after recovering from a groin injury, but now faces more time on the sidelines.

The 22-year-old started in the Leipzig midfield for their Bundesliga clash with Gladbach, after missing the midweek draw with AS Monaco in the Champions League, lining up next to Konrad Laimer.

And his side got off to a fine start when Timo Werner fired the ball past Yann Sommer on 17 minutes, before Thorgan Hazard levelled the scores for the visitors.

Six minutes later, Keita, operating in a roving role in Hasenhuttl’s midfield pair, slid a through pass for France U21 international Jean-Kevin Augustin to put Leipzig back ahead.

Hasenhuttl looked to steady the ship after half-time, withdrawing Augustin and introducing robust midfielder Diego Demme, but it went from bad to worse after Lars Stindl equalised.

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Keita, vying for the ball with Gladbach’s Christoph Kramer, went in with a high boot, colliding with the midfielder’s face in a challenge reminiscent of Sadio Mane‘s at Man City earlier this month.

The No. 8 was shown a straight red card by referee Marco Fritz, and now faces a ban.

Leipzig's Naby Keita thanks the fans after the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and Werder Bremen at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, Germany, 23 October 2016. PHOTO: Jan Woitas/dpa

Keita has been in excellent form already this season, including a sensational strike in Leipzig’s 2-0 win away to Hamburger SV earlier in September.

The Guinean also scored in the 5-0 victory at Dorfmerkingen in the DFB-Pokal, averaging a goal or assist every 148 minutes so far this season.

Having sealed a £55 million move to Liverpool for next summer, Keita remains one of Hasenhuttl’s most important players for 2017/18, starting every game he has been available for so far.

His arrival on Merseyside in 2018 will be a major boost for the Reds, who will clearly benefit from Keita’s all-round quality.

In Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Burnley, for example, Jurgen Klopp could have called upon Keita’s dynamism, long-range prowess and line-breaking runs to penetrate the Clarets’ defence.

For now, he will have to persevere without his record signing, with Philippe Coutinho‘s continued reintegration in the middle of the park key.

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