If you thought Tuesday night offered some fantastic Champions League moments, Wednesday was just as tenacious and Thursday – well that was a wee beauty as well. There was a bit of everything this week; crazy goals, red cards, and record breakers. What more could we hope for!??
It was a cracking tie between Bayern Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid at the Bay Arena. Madrid took charge of the game with two away goals in the first half. Niguez opened the scoring with a stunning strike in the 17-minute; his curling effort sailed past keeper Bernd Leno and Antoine Griezmann doubled Atletico’s lead after finding himself unmarked in the Leverkusen box. Think it’s fair to say that was rather silly of the German defence – tut tut lads! Griezmann’s goal makes him Atletico’s all-time top scorer in European competition, surpassing Luis Aragones who held the previous record with 12 goals. There looked to be some hope for Leverkusen when Bellarabi scored an early goal after the restart however this promising start was ended when Gemiero scored from the spot in the 58th-minute and despite Savic scoring Leverkusen’s second goal of the evening, the tie was put out of reach when Torres scored Atletico’s fourth away goal in the 86th-minute with his cheeky, dinking header. Despite having 62% of the possession it is Atletico who look set for yet another Champions League quarter-final.
Manchester City v Monaco broke a very special goal scoring record; this game recorded the highest scoring first-leg in Champions League history – nae bad! And Radamel Falcao broke his own personal record, scoring more goals in Manchester on Tuesday night than he did in his entire career at Manchester United. LOL. It was the first-time Monaco had ever conceded 5 goals in European competition but not the first-time City had scored five, having beaten Russian opposition CSKA Moscow 5-2 in November 2013. It was an impressive start for City, when Raheem Sterling drew first blood in the 26th minute however the ever-present Falcao cancelled out Sterling’s early spark with a superb header. The Blues were denied a penalty before the break when Aguero was taken out by Monaco keeper, Subasic. French teenager Mbappe put the Ligue 1 side ahead before the half with a powerful driven effort. Monaco could have increased their lead after the break when a penalty was awarded against Otamendi but Falcao’s effort was saved by City shot stopper Caballero. City came out all guns blazing in the second half. Aguero scored an early goal to pull City level; he was gifted a goal from Subasic who made a shocking error. The equaliser did not go unanswered, and Radamel Falcao chipped a delightful ball over the head of, a defenseless, Caballero. Definitely one of the goals of the tournament, so far. The ongoing battle between Falcao and Aguero continued as the Argentine showed his own class with his second equaliser of the night with a superb volley in the Monaco box. Stones leaped higher than everyone to score from a De Bruyne cross to make it 4 – 3 City in the 77th minute. And Sane scored the fifth, to give City some breathing space going into the second-leg. He was set-up very unselfishly by Aguero, who was in for his hat-trick, to place the ball into an empty net. So it’s game on in Monaco in a few weeks’ time! Vive la Fitbaw!!
Leicester City salvaged some hope of progression. Jamie Vardy scored a crucial away goal to secure a narrow defeat at the hands of strong European opponents, Sevilla. It was a special moment for Jamie Vardy who marked his journey to become a Premier League Champions with another career highlight; namely, there have only been four years and 315 days between Vardy’s last non-league goal and his first Champions League one. However, despite Vardy’s fairytale finish it was Sevilla who brought some bite. Los Blanquirrojos had 73% possession, 22 shots on goal and banged one of the post, as well as scoring two goals of their own. Kasper Schmeichel was man of the match for Leicester, not only did he save a penalty given against Wes Morgan on the 13th minute but he showed excellent reflexes against the likes of Sergio Escudero and Correa who looked dangerous throughout the match. Despite the Danes valiant of efforts, he was unable to keep Pablo Sarabia and Joaquin Correa at bay as the Spaniards sinked their teeth into the foxes defence. Vardy’s goal only keeps Leicester’s Champions League dreams alive, which sets us up for a rather compelling second-leg tie at the King Power Stadium on 14th March.
Two legends met on Wednesday evening at the Estadio do Dragao in Portugal. Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon swapped jerseys at the end of a rather feisty affair between FC Porto and Juventus. The tie looked all but gone for Porto when left-back Alex Telles seen red on the 27th-minute, after he committed two shocking tackles in the space of 3-minutes on Juan Cuadrado and Lichtsteiner. Calm doon pal! (Both shockers, have a look in the link below) German referee, Felix Brych had no choice but to send him off for reckless play. Following the defender’s sending off, it was Iker Cassilas who was put through his paces as he saved shot after shot as Juventus turned up the heat. The Spanish shot stopper made his 174th appearance in the competition on Wednesday night, equaling the record held by Paolo Maldini. Despite Juventus dominance, it took them until the 72nd-minute to break the deadlock through Pjaca, who scored his first goal in a Juve shirt. Super sub Alves may have sealed the tie for the Old Lady when he made it 2-0 on 74-minutes. It was unfortunate for Porto who looked like they may have held onto the draw despite Telles stupidity, alas it wasn’t to be and now they have a difficult away tie to look forward to in Turin.
Rostov, Lyon, Besiktas, Manchester United, Schalke and Roma all breezed past their opposition to book their place in the next-round of the Europa League. Rostov blew Sparta Prague away in the first-leg with a 4-nil win, and they finished the tie with an away goal in Prague where they progressed with a 1 – 5 aggregate. Lyon progressed with an impressive 11 – 2 aggregate score line. They bet Dutch opposition, Alkmaar 7 – 1 at their Parc Olympique Lyonaise stadium. Roma lost 0 – 1 at home to Villareal, however the Italians already leada the tie with four unanswered away goals from the first-leg. Mkhitaryan pilled more misery on St Etienne, he scored the only goal of the game which knocked the French side out of Europe after a four nothing trouncing!
Tottenham Hotspurs are out of the Europa League despite the fact they rid themselves of last week’s toothless performance. Spurs were lively and energetic and were rewarded with an early Erikson goal on 10 minutes, but they were sold by one of their own. The young Dele Alli stuck a career ending tackle on Genk midfielder Brecht Dejaegere; the England international was rightly sent for an early bath but left his team mates with a further uphill struggle. Before all this, Harry Kane put the ball in his own net putting Genk ahead on aggregate. Not good! However, Big Vic Wanyama gave Spurs some hope with his curler in the 61st minute but it wasn’t to be and Jeremy Perbet, who scored the winner in the first-leg, killed the dream with 10 minutes on the clock.
Bilbao won the battle but Apoel Nicosia won the war. They progressed as victors with a 2 – 0 win at the GSP stadium. The overturned a 3 – 2 Bilbao home win last Thursday to win their game on home soil. A terrific achievement for the Cypriot Champions – good luck to them in the next round. Game of the night goes to either: Fiorentina and Borussia Monchengladbach or Zenit St Petersberg v Anderlecht; both went down to the wire. After a 2-0 defeat in the first-leg, Zenit were forced to fight for their place in the competition and a first half goal from de Paula on 24 minutes gave them the hope they needed. Dzyuba scored in 72’ and de Paula scored his second in the 78th minute but in the dying seconds their hard work was cancelled out by Swedish striker, Issaac Kiese Thelin who scored a header in the final minute and Anderlecht progressed on away goals – cruel. After missing so many opportunities in front of goal last Thursday, Borussia Monchengladbach came out to create a storm! But not until the second half. Fiorentina took the lead early on, with a goal from Kalinic in the 15th minute. The Italians doubled their lead in the 28th with a goal from Spanish midfielder Valero Iglesias. However, Gladbach were not prepared to lie down and claimed a goal back with a spot kick goal from Stindl a minute before the half. Stindl scored his second of the night in the 55th minute and the tie was level. In the 60th minute a hero emerged in the form of Danish interntional, on loan from Chelsea, Andreas Christensen who scored the winning goal to take the Germans through to the last 16.
A vital away goal was scored by Krasnador in their away tie against Turkish opposition Fenerbache; they progressed with a 1 – 2 aggregate score line. Genk’s 1 – 0 home win gave them a narrow win to take them through to the last 16. Celta Vigo pulled off an impressive 0 – 2 away win to take them through to the next round; they overturned a 0 – 1 home defeat to Shaktar Donetsk last Thursday. Ajax scored the only goal over the two legs in their tie against Legia Warsaw to progress to the last 16.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Round of 16 (First-leg)
Bayern Leverkusen 2 v 4 Atletico Madrid
Bellarabi (48) Niguez (17)
Savic (67 og) Griezmann (25)
Gameiro (58 pen)
Man City 5 v 3 Monaco
Sterling (26) Falcao (32, 61)
Aguero (58, 71) Mbappe (40)
FC Porto 0 v 2 Juventus
Telles (red card 27) Pjaca (72)
Sevilla 2 v 1 Leicester
Sarbia (25) Vardy (73)
EUROPA LEAGUE – Round of 32 (First-leg)
FK Krasnodar 1 v 0 Fenerbache
2L: Fenerbache 1 v 1 Krasnador Agg (1 – 2)
Astra Giurgiu 2 v 2 KRC Genk
2L: KRC Genk 1 v 0 Astra Agg (3 – 2)
AZ Alkmaar 1 v 4 Lyon
2L: Lyon 7 v 1 Alkmaar Agg (11 – 2)
Borussia M’gladback 0 v 1 Fiorentina
2L: Fiorentina 2 v 4 M’gladback Agg (3 – 4)
Celta Vigo 0 v 1 Shaktar Donetsk
2L: Donetsk 0 v 2 Celta Vigo Agg (1 – 2)
FC Rostov 4 v 0 Sparta Prague
2L: Sparta Prague 1 v 1 Rostov Agg (1 – 5)
KAA Gent 1 v 0 Tottenham Hotspur
2L: Tottenham 2 – 2 KAA Gent Agg (2 – 3)
Ludogrets 1 v 2 FC Copenhagen
2L: Copenhagen 0 v 0 Ludogrets Agg (2 – 1)
Olympiakos 0 v 0 Osmanlispor
2L: Osmanlispor 0 v 3 Olympiakos Agg (0 – 3)
Athletic Bilbao 3 v 2 Apoel Nicosia
2L: Apoel Nicosia 2 v 0 Athletic Bilbao Agg (4 – 3)
Hapeol Be’er Sheva 1 v 3 Besiktas
2L: Besiktas 2 v 1 Hapeol Be’er Sheva Agg (5 – 2)
Legia Warsaw 0 v 0 Ajax
2L: Ajax 1 v 0 Legia Warsaw Agg (1 – 0)
Manchester United 3 v 0 Saint-Etienne
St Etienne 1 v 1 Man Utd Agg (0 – 4)
PAOK Salonika 0 v 3 FC Schalke 04
2L: Schalke 1 v 1 PAOK Agg (4 – 1)
Anderlecht 2 v 0 Zenit St Petersburg
2L: Zenit 3 v 1 Anderlecht Agg (3 – 3, Anderlecht win on away goals)
Villareal 0 v 4 Roma
2L: Roma 0 v 1 Villareal Agg (4 – 1)
Man City 5 – 3 Monaco: https://youtu.be/E_TtufK6joc
Bayern Leverkusen 2 – 4 Atletico Madrid: https://youtu.be/vFN4e8Bad50
Porto 0 – 2 Juventus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-YGIzqZyjI
Sevilla 2 – 1 Leicester: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1mtpCzLh7U
ONES TO WATCH
Falcao superb finish and other memorable Champions League chips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJDadmcX_oM
Telles loses the plot, shocking challenges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85ZyhIDfPJU
From non-league to Champions League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP2FYYT4TnQ