The visitors were the better side throughout and could have scored more than the single goal as they bossed proceedings from the start, although Spurs did rally late on when Jose Mourinho made changes.
In the end it was just Werner’s penalty that was the difference, mainly thanks to Hugo Lloris, and Spurs will probably feel relieved that they only trail by one heading to Germany for the return leg.
RB Leipzig made an excellent start at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and almost took the lead in the second minute.
After Davinson Sanchez had crucially blocked a goalbound effort, on-loan Manchester City wing-back Angelino was first to the follow-up and saw his shot pushed onto the post by Lloris.
The danger was not over for Spurs, but the offside flag eventually brought them some respite when Werner had been picked out in a good position inside the penalty area.
Lloris was needed again in the 36th minute to deny Werner, who could only fire his close-range effort straight at the Tottenham captain.
RB Leipzig continued to dominate possession, although Sanchez remained a key figure in defence for the hosts, making a number of blocks and interceptions at pivotal moments.
Leipzig were presented with a great chance to take the lead in the 56th minute, when Spurs left-back Ben Davies clumsily brought down Konrad Laimer in the penalty area.
The Welshman received a booking and Werner, who had chipped the ball into the path of his team-mate, stepped up to take the spot-kick.
The German international fired the penalty into the bottom corner, ending his five-game goal drought and leaving Tottenham with an uphill task for the remainder.
It should have been 2-0 in the 62nd minute, when RB Leipzig caught Spurs on the counter-attack.
A wonderful dummy by Werner, from Angelino’s pass, gave Patrik Schick a clear shot on goal, but Lloris produced another superb save.
Jose Mourinho reacted with a double substitution in the 64th minute, with Dele Alli and Gedson making way for Tanguy Ndombele and Erik Lamela.
Lo Celso struck the woodwork in the 72nd minute from a curling free-kick, with RB Leipzig goalkeeper Gulacsi getting a decisive touch.
Lucas Moura squandered a golden opportunity with two minutes left, when he headed over Davies’ cross from close range.
Ndombele and Lamela made a difference from the bench for Spurs, but the home side had been frustrated by Gulacsi and the RB Leipzig defence.
It would prove Tottenham’s final chance of the night, with referee Cuneyt Cakir blowing the full-time whistle after five minutes of stoppage time to leave Spurs with a one-goal deficit ahead of the return leg in Germany.
Tottenham Hotspur 0–1 RB Leipzig – Opta stats
- 38% of Tottenham’s home Champions League defeats have come against German opposition (3/8), also losing on home soil to Bayer Leverkusen in November 2016 and Bayern Munich back in October.
- Of all sides to play their first ever Champions League knockout game away from home, RB Leipzig are just the sixth different side to win, and first since their German counterparts Wolfsburg beat Gent back in February 2016.
- In his Champions League career, Spurs boss José Mourinho has lost the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie at home for only the third time, also doing so against Barcelona in February 2006 with Chelsea and April 2011 with Real Madrid, going on to be eliminated on both occasions.
- RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann (32 years, 211 days) became the youngest ever person to take charge of a Champions League knockout match, overtaking Domenico Tedesco (33 years, 161 days) who oversaw FC Schalke’s last 16 tie with Manchester City last season.
- RB Leipzig had 12 shots during the first half of this match – the most they have ever had during the opening 45 minutes in an away Champions League match, while also the most Spurs have ever faced as the home side before the interval in the competition.
- Each of Timo Werner’s first seven Champions League goals for RB Leipzig have come away from home, the longest streak by a player in the competition’s history before their first home goal.
- Spurs boss José Mourinho became the fourth different manager to take charge of 150 Champions League matches after Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti. Indeed, only Ancelotti (84) won more of his first 150 games in the competition than Mourinho (81).
- Tottenham are the sixth different side José Mourinho has managed in the knockout stages of the Champions League, the joint-most number of different sides one manager has taken charge of at this stage alongside Carlo Ancelotti (FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United & Spurs).