Quarterfinals of the Champions League are set
By: Emmanuel Mendez
The knockout stages of the Champions League are always exciting for many football fans. There is no need to worry about away goals, which has caused some upsets. This year is different from previous years as the away goal rule is scrapped.
That rule hasn’t changed the upset factor this year. An eventful round of 16 in the Champions League left unexpected results and displayed some convincing wins from teams that look favorites to win the whole tournament.
One of those convincing wins came from Manchester City. The English side took on the Portuguese champions, Sporting CP. In the first leg at Lisbon, City cruised through and won 5-0.
Goals for City came from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, and a brace from Bernardo Silva. The second leg ended 0-0 with a very different City side filled with youngsters and experienced players.
Bayern Munich also destroyed their opponents in RB Salzburg. This wasn’t the case in the first leg after Austria’s 1-1 draw.
A goal from substitute Chukwubuike Adamu gave Salzburg the lead. A 90th-minute goal by Kingsley Coman saved Bayern from a loss.
In the return leg, it was a completely different story. It was classic Bayern again and had a goal fest in Munich.
A 10-minute hat trick by Robert Lewandowski, a brace from Thomas Muller, and goals by Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane completed a 7-1 win. Bayern advanced by an 8-2 aggregate score.
Two sides that are struggling this season, Manchester United and Atletico Madrid, made a close game between themselves. In Madrid, the game ended 1-1 thanks to goals by Joao Felix and then United youngster Anthony Elanga.
The return leg showed the great defensive and counter-attacking display of football by Atletico Madrid, which led to them winning 1-0. Atletico wins 2-1 on aggregate and looks to be improving late into the season.
Chelsea took on French champs, Lille, and won the first leg 2-0 at home. Lille, at times, looked dangerous and had shared possession of the ball with Chelsea.
Chelsea was clinical with their chances and sealed the win with goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.
Chelsea would win again, this time in France, with a 2-1. Lille scored first, thanks to Burak Yilmaz via penalty. Before the halftime whistle, Pulisic would score to equalize, and it was his second goal of the tie.
In the 71st minute, Cesar Azpilicueta scored the winning goal to seal a 4-1 aggregate score. The current champions look to defend their UCL title.
Liverpool and Inter Milan contested in a tight game that ended 2-1 on aggregate in favor of the Reds. In Milan, Liverpool scored two late goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah to win 2-0 after Inter played better in the second half.
In Liverpool, Inter scored in the second half thanks to a screamer by Lautaro Martinez. Inter couldn’t score a second to equalize the aggregate score, and Liverpool couldn’t convert to kill the game, Liverpool advanced.
The unexpected results came in the games between Ajax v Benfica and Juventus v Villareal. Ajax went into the Benfica game as favorites to win because they won all six of their group stage matches.
The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw in Portugal. Dusan Tadic and Sebastien Haller scored for the Dutch champions. The two goals for Benfica came from a Haller own goal and a goal from Roman Yaremchuk.
The second leg in Amsterdam showed Ajax struggling to score and get shots on target. Benfica’s Darwin Nunez scored the only shot on target for the Portuguese team. Ajax couldn’t score, and Benfica advanced by a 3-2 aggregate score.
Juventus failed to get past the round of 16 for the third time in a row. The first leg ended 1-1, and Juve’s new signing Dusan Vlahovic scored in the game’s first minute. Villareal equalized courtesy of Dani Parejo.
The second leg displayed good moments from both teams, primarily for Juventus in the first half. Juventus failed to score and completely collapsed after a penalty given to Villareal in the 78th minute. Gerard Moreno scored and afterwards led to more defensive errors from the Old Lady.
Pau Torres scored a header from a corner in the 85th minute to make it 2-0. Another penalty was given for the Yellow Submarine after a handball by Mattias De Light. Arnaut Danjuma converted the penalty to make it 3-0 and 4-1 on aggregate.
The most anticipated fixture of the round of 16 was the tie between PSG and Real Madrid. The first leg showed PSG’s world-class talent as they were all over a very defensive Madrid side.
PSG could have scored so many but couldn’t throughout the whole game. A brilliant last-minute goal by Kylian Mbappe gave PSG the 1-0 win.
In the first half of the second leg, PSG continued to show their attacking force, and Mbappe would score again in the tie. Real Madrid switched gears and created another iconic comeback in the UCL. The French were winning 1-0 and 2-0 on aggregate.
A mistake from PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 61st minute led Karim Benzema to equalize and make the game 1-1. PSG lost focus, and in the 76th and 78th minute, Benzema struck two more times to complete his hattrick and the comeback. Real Madrid won the game 3-1 and 3-2 on aggregate.