LATEST: QUARTER FINAL DRAW:
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund
Paris St. Germain vs Chelsea
Manchester United vs Bayern Munich
The past two weeks have been relief for some football fans while others face agonizing heartbreak watching their teams lose and get knocked out of European football and probably the world’s most prestigious club-level tournament, the UEFA Champions League. This week saw the second legs of the last of the Round-of-16 ties being played. Let’s look back at which teams managed to qualify for the quarter-finals and who didn’t.
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic starred in PSG’s games.
The first legs of the round kicked off on 19 February this year with Paris St. Germain storming past Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Bay Arena. In what was an almost flawless night for the French giants, star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagged a brace while Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye both scored. It marked a special day for Cabaye as he scored his first goal in PSG colours after moving from Newcastle United. About three weeks later, the two teams met at the Parc de Princes in Paris and the game was merely a formality as the hosts already had a massive four away goals. This meant that Leverkusen needed to win by more than five goals, but alas they lost 1-2, with Marquinhos and Ezequiel Lavezzi cancelling out Sidney Sam’s spirited opener.
Aggregate score: Paris St. Germain 6-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
At the same time, Barcelona got two precious away goals at the Etihad Stadium. Hosts Manchester City had a night to forget when defender Martin Demichelis’s sending off reduced them to ten men and soon after, Lionel Messi and Dani Alves sank City. In the second leg at Camp Nou, the Citizens also had right-back Pablo Zabaleta sent off, and as a result they had to settle for a 1-2 defeat, with Alves cancelling out Vincent Kompany’s equalizer for Messi’s strike.
Aggregate score: Barcelona 4-1 Manchester City
Defending champions Bayern Munich emerged from the Emirates Stadium victorious with a 2-0 lead thanks to Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller’s goals. In the second leg, Arsenal put up a more resilient display of football and Lukas Podolski, recently restored back to the Arsenal line-up, pulled a goal back after Bastian Schweinsteiger scored earlier to put the game beyond the Gunners.
Aggregate score: Bayern Munich 3-1 Arsenal
Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, won 1-0 at the San Siro thanks to Diego Costa’s late goal. At home in the second leg, however, the Spanish giants were ruthless, running out 4-1 winners. Costa netted twice, with Raul Garcia and Arda Turan both scoring as well. Milan midfielder Kaka scored his first goal since his return to the club, but that was insignificant and Atletico progressed to the next round.
Aggregate score: Atletico Madrid 5-1 AC Milan
Borussia Dortmund, despite their long injury list, managed to overcome Zenit St. Petersburg at the Petrovski Stadium, 4-2. Star striker Robert Lewandowski blasted two goals, and Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored to deem Oleg Shatov and Hulk’s goals minor. Dortmund, however, lost at the Signal Iduna Park, where Rondon and Hulk both scored. Luckily, midfielder Sebastian Kehl also put his name on the scoresheet and Dortmund were through, albeit after a tough battle.
Aggregate score: Borussia Dortmund 5-4 Zenit St. Petersburg
Olympiakos registered a shock win over Manchester United at the Karaiskaki Stadium in Athens after a poor performance from the Red Devils. Alejandro Dominguez and Joel Campbell both scored and United were now facing a mountain to climb. That did not daunt them and Robin van Persie’s hat-trick at Old Trafford left Olympiakos reeling in shock after they had come so close to qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Aggregate score: Manchester United 3-2 Olympiakos
The mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo.
It was a barrage of goals when Real Madrid thrashed FC Schalke 04 6-1 at the VELTINS-Arena in Gelsenkirchen. The frontline of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale each scored a brace while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulled a consolation goal with a stunning volley in the dying seconds. Many thought that it would be another goal-scoring spree once the return leg took place at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, manager Carlo Ancelotti decided to rest key players and handed rare starts to Nacho Fernandez, Asier Illarramendi, Jese and Alvaro Morata. However, Jese, a dark horse for a spot in the Spanish World Cup squad, got injured eight minutes in and was ruled out for the rest of the season – six months, in fact -, effectively ruling him out of the World Cup. However, Real did not let that linger on their mind and Ronaldo’s double, coupled with Morata’s strike sealed the tie for them, despite Tim Hoogland’s goal in the second leg.
Aggregate score: Real Madrid 9-2 FC Schalke 04
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.
Chelsea’s two ties with Turkish side Galatasaray meant that legendary Blues striker Didier Drogba had a reunion with his former employers. He famously said before the two games, “I will be playing at home for both games.”. However, the Ivorian powerhouse failed to score in either game. In the first leg, Aurelien Chedjou equalised after Fernando Torres had given Chelsea an early lead. Despite Chelsea being unable to win at the Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul, they did not give up with that one precious away goal and in the second leg they managed to win 2-0, with goals from Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill sending the English giants into the quarter finals.
Aggregate score: Chelsea 3-1 Galatasaray
That’s it so far. Let’s hope for a thrilling quarter-finals!