Champions League Roundup

A review of the biggest games from the first-leg of the round of sixteen in the Champions League

Mitchell Hall
28th February 2022
Twitter: @brfootball
The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 is done and dusted after a two match draw on Wednesday 23rd February (spoilers: Benfica 2-2 Ajax; Atletico Madrid 1-1 Manchester United).
Twitter: @ChampionsLeague

PSG vs Real Madrid: It was a close affair in Paris as PSG’s super team hosted a resurgent Real Madrid. Despite a constant goal threat from the relentless French side, who posted 21 shots in comparison to the visitors’ three, Madrid managed to deny a way through for their opponents for most of the game. This was largely due to Thibaut Courtois producing a heroic performance in goal, including penalty save against Lionel Messi in the second half which summed up the match up to that point. Eventually, the stalwart defence gave way to individual Mbappe brilliance as the Frenchman (and reported favourite transfer target of Madrid) beat two defenders on the left side and slid his shot between the legs of Courtois in the 94th minute. The tie is all to play for in the second leg, with Madrid hoping to make the most of their home advantage.

Sporting Lisbon vs Man City: The tale was altogether different in Portugal as Manchester City turned the story of their match into a statement of intent to their competitors, ruthlessly battering Sporting in their own stadium. It didn’t take the visitors long to settle, with Mahrez opening the scoring in the 7th minute thanks to a selfless play from De Bruyne. The tone from here was set as City continued to dominate and were again rewarded in the form of a thunderbolt of a volley courtesy of the in-form Bernardo Silva, which crashed in off the underside of the bar. Foden made it three from a Mahrez cross before Silva struck again in the town in which he was born just before half time. The Portuguese maestro was denied a hattrick by VAR, but City claimed their 5th soon after with Raheem Sterling bending his shot into the top corner from considerable distance. Other teams will surely be looking over their shoulder, and it seems a near certainty that City will cruise through the home leg and into the quarterfinals.

Inter Milan vs Liverpool: Liverpool impressed in Italy, moving the domestic champions aside in their own back yard confidently. It took a while for the breakthrough to come for the Merseyside club, but Inter failed to test Alisson (excluding a disallowed goal from a VERY offside Edin Dzeko) and were inevitably punished for their lack of initiative via a precise Roberto Firmino header, the Brazilian latching onto an ideal Robertson corner, glancing the ball towards the far post and in. Salah rounded off the performance with a scrappy finish amidst a scramble in the Inter penalty area. Liverpool take home a convincing lead, standing them in good stead for their leg at Anfield.

Chelsea vs LOSC: Joining Liverpool in 2-0 victories is Chelsea, who gained a significant lead against a French side brimming with explosive talent. Havertz wasted little time racking up an advantage for the home side, heading home in the 8th minute from a Ziyech cross and stunning the visitors. They didn’t allow this to deter them for too long, and what followed was end to end attacks with chances that neither side seemed to be able to capitalise on. The second break came as Kante bolted onto a loose ball, penetrated the back line of Lille before laying the ball off to Pulisic who found the back of the net clinically. The question remains whether they can protect what is a vulnerable advantage away from home, against the explosive likes of Bamba, David and Sanchez.

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