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Emotional Forsberg farewell after gala evening: "An honor"

Leipzig player Emil Forsberg celebrates after his goal to make it 2:1 / Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa
Leipzig player Emil Forsberg celebrates after his goal to make it 2:1 / Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa

It's like the script: Forsberg is substituted in his last home game, scores himself and sets up the next goal. RB thus remain at the top of the Bundesliga.

Emil Forsberg had tears in his eyes after his magnificent final act in the RB Leipzig shirt in front of his home crowd. "The journey was incredible. I'm just very grateful. It was an honor to play here. I love this club, this city, the fans," said Forsberg after his gala performance in the 3:1 (1:1) win against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday on TV channel Sky. Immediately afterwards, the Swedish international was officially sent off to Red Bull New York.

"Emil Forsberg, Emil Forsberg," echoed through the arena as the man with the number ten went on the lap of honor to the sound of Frank Sinatra's classic "New York". His teammates applauded in the background, they had already celebrated Forsberg beforehand.

"They were wonderful years, two cup wins at the end, we play Champions League every year. That was the goal here. Everything I imagined has happened," said Forsberg about his nine years in a Leipzig shirt. And his last home game was once again a great show: first he gave RB the lead shortly after coming on as a substitute, then he set up the next goal. As a result, the Saxon Bundesliga club has climbed to third place in the table for the time being.

"That's great. It's not every day that you get such an emotional game. He's a great guy," enthused his long-time team-mate Youssuf Poulsen. Shortly after the game, his new club officially announced the transfer in the winter. Forsberg will receive a contract in New York until 2026, including an option for a further year.

Before the big farewell, however, it was another feat of strength for Leipzig. Lukas Klostermann (34th minute) put Marco Rose's team ahead in front of 42,946 spectators at the Red Bull Arena before Ozan Kabak (42nd) equalized. Forsberg (71) restored the lead, Mohamed Simakan (74) increased it.

Even though RB record player Poulsen set the first sign of respect with his header after just over two minutes, the fans celebrated their "Mister RB" Forsberg - not a trace of DFL protest. "With you in League One and throughout Europe, thank you for 9 years of commitment and passion" was written on a banner in the fan block. After 324 competitive matches, he played his last home game.

In the stands, New York sporting director Jochen Schneider and coach Sandro Schwarz personally inspected the exceptional footballer's performance after he came on as a substitute in the 66th minute - and he did not disappoint them.

They initially saw a one-sided game. Hoffenheim, who had traveled to the match with five away victories, just stood back against the Saxons. However, RB initially had few creative solutions in their continuous attack. TSG counter-attacked from time to time. After winning the ball, the visitors quickly switched to outnumbered players, but Simakan was able to clear Ihlas Bebou's shot from a half-right position (24') for a corner.

At the other end, John Anthony Brooks almost headed a corner kick (26') into his own goal. Benjamin Henrichs (29) then tried a powerful shot from the edge of the box, which went over the goal. A few seconds later, Poulsen was denied by TSG keeper Oliver Baumann after receiving a through pass from Christoph Baumgartner.

It was a game of patience for the German cup winners. After a free-kick, Poulsen headed the ball into the center, where Simakan initially failed to clear a defender, but Klostermann (34) fired the rebound into the net from two meters. However, the goal was more of a wake-up call for Hoffenheim. After a free-kick, Kabak (42) headed in the equalizer. RB keeper Janis Blaswich, who was running out, failed to catch the ball. Before the half-time whistle, Kevin Vogt rammed over the otherwise pale Lois Openda in the penalty area without any chance of the ball, and Leipzig vehemently demanded a penalty - to no avail.

After the changeover, Baumann was powerless to stop Xavi Simons (50) from 16 meters, but the ball bounced back into the pitch from the inside of the post. Leipzig continued to struggle to build up play. Forsberg was to change that after just over an hour. Before being substituted, he was given a hug by Rose. The crowd in front of the stands echoed: "Here we go". After an Openda cross, Poulsen (69) sailed past the ball one meter in front of goal. Openda then found Forsberg with a long ball. He took the ball at full stretch and hammered it into the corner in the 71st minute. A minute later, the Swede sent Openda through on goal, but he failed to beat Baumann. Forsberg then hit the crossbar from a corner and Simakan chased the rebounded ball over the line. It was the perfect farewell evening for Forsberg.

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