LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) — Xavi Simons scored a spectacular first Champions League goal and set up another to propel Leipzig to a 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday as the German team took a step closer to the knockout stages.
The 20-year-old Dutch midfielder on loan from Paris Saint-Germain assisted on David Raum's opener in the 12th minute and curled a shot into the top-right corner from outside the box in the 59th.
Leipzig stays second in Group G, three points off leader Manchester City, but moves five points clear of third place after City won 3-1 against Swiss club Young Boys in the other game Wednesday.
Leipzig took the early lead by playing around Red Star's narrow defense as Simons passed for the overlapping Raum to score with a powerful low shot. It was the left-back first career Champions League goal, as well.
Center back Castello Lukeba nearly made it 2-0 soon after when his deflected header was just clawed away by Red Star goalkeeper Omri Glazer. Red Star wanted a penalty for a challenge by Leipzig's Xaver Schlager on Peter Olayinka but video review showed he got the ball.
Simons has flourished at Leipzig so far on loan from PSG and showed his skill with the second goal, cutting in toward the center from the left past Red Star midfielder Hwang In-beom before unleashing a curling shot from around 20 yards (18 meters) which left Glazer no chance. Simons has four goals and five assists in 13 games at Leipzig.
New Zealand midfielder Marko Stamenic sparked hopes of a comeback for Red Star when he scored in the 70th from close range off a teammate's deflected shot, but Dani Olmo made sure of the win for Leipzig. After Christoph Baumgartner headed against the bar, the Spanish midfielder bundled the ball in for his first goal since returning Saturday after six weeks out with a knee injury.
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The Associated Press