Image: Wikimedia Commons, Vasil Evlogiev

Europe’s elite return in first week of Champions League knockouts

The Champions League returned this week with matches involving Real Madrid, Manchester City, PSG, and Bayern Munich.


Real Madrid win away at the Red Bull Arena

A special strike from Brahim Díaz gave Real Madrid a crucial away win against RB Leipzig on the evening of 13 February.

Coming into the game, RB Leipzig had only one win in their last five games, whilst Real Madrid sat top of La Liga.

With less than two minutes on the clock, Xaver Schlager’s effort was headed in by Benjamin Šeško who thought he had given Leipzig an early lead. However, the goal was ruled out for an apparent push on Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

Real Madrid opened the scoring just after the break with Díaz curling an effort perfectly into the top corner.

Following this, Leipzig looked to respond instantly, as Dani Olmo and Šeško forced a double save from Lunin.

Olmo continued to be a bright spark for the hosts, as his long-range effort was well saved by Lunin.

From the subsequent counter-attack, Vinícius Júnior hit the post for Real Madrid.

A good, albeit undeserved, win for Real Madrid leaves them in a good position to progress to the quarter-finals. Meanwhile Leipzig will feel unlucky to come away with nothing, after an excellent performance.


Manchester City win in Copenhagen

Manchester City put themselves in a good position to qualify for the quarter-finals with a deserved 3-1 victory away at Copenhagen.

It took just ten minutes for the holders to score, as Phil Foden found Kevin De Bruyne in the box who finished low into the far corner from a tight angle.

Despite dominating, Manchester City were pegged back as the ball fell to Magnus Mattsson, who confidently finished into the corner following a mistake from Ederson.

Manchester City then led once again just before the break as Bernardo Silva cutely finished past Kamil Grabara from the corner of the six-yard box.

In additional time, Phil Foden sealed the victory, and possibly the tie. It was a well-worked goal to round off a good evening for the defending champions.


Lazio defeat Bayern Munich in Rome

Lazio earned a surprise 1-0 victory against Bayern Munich in the Champions League thanks to Ciro Immobile’s penalty.

Bayern Munich started the better side, with Harry Kane firing over following Thomas Muller’s cross.

Bayern came close to opening the scoring as Leroy Sané’s effort whistled wide following a clever free-kick routine.

Bayern continued to dominate, as Jamal Musiala put a good chance over the bar with five minutes left of the first half.

After the break, it was the hosts who had a great chance to take the lead. Luis Alberto played Gustav Isaksen through one-on-one. The 22-year-old saw his effort saved well by Manuel Neuer.

The game’s decisive moment came in the 67th minute, as Dayot Upamecano’s challenge on Isaksen resulted in a red card and a penalty kick. Immobile scored confidently, sending Manuel Neuer the wrong way.

All this means Lazio take a lead to Munich for the second leg. Meanwhile, the pressure continues to be ramped up on Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel.


PSG take control at the Parc des Princes

In Wednesday’s other match, PSG got the better of Real Sociedad.

The hosts started better, as Kylian Mbappé forced a good save from Real Sociedad goalkeeper Álex Remiro.

Real Sociedad had their moments, and almost took the lead as Mikel Merino’s long-range effort clipped the top of the crossbar.

In the second half, Ousmane Dembélé’s corner was headed on by Marquinhos and tapped in at the back post by Mbappé.

Less than five minutes later, Mbappé clipped the top of the crossbar from outside the box.

With twenty minutes left, PSG doubled their lead as Bradley Barcola skipped past Hamari Traoré, before poking the ball through the legs of Remiro for his first goal in the Champions League.

PSG put themselves in a good position to quality for the quarter-finals, leaving Real Sociedad with a lot of work to do in the second leg if they want to stay in the competition.


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