Defending champions Real Madrid inflicted a crushing defeat on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool this week, as all four English clubs struggled to overcome the challenge from other European clubs in the UEFA Champions League. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City faltered in the second half to end their fixture against RB Leipzig with a draw, while both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs will enter the second leg of the Round of 16 with a one-goal deficit. Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain also suffered a shock loss to Bayern Munich, while all three Italian clubs ended the first leg on the front foot.
With the second-leg fixtures of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 scheduled to begin on 7th March, here’s a look at how the first-leg fixtures went for each team:
Liverpool 2-5 Real Madrid
The major headline from the week’s fixtures has been the complete collapse of Liverpool’s defensive unit in their fixture against defending champions Real Madrid, with the Reds suffering a humiliating 5-2 defeat at home. Jurgen Klopp’s men started the fixture on the right note, with Darwin Nunez opening the score for the hosts in the fourth minute. Mohamed Salah quickly converted a costly mistake from Thibaut Courtois to add to Liverpool’s lead in the 14th minute.
Vinicius Jr. was the man of the match for Real Madrid, scoring his first goal in the 21st minute to bring the visitors back into the game. A mistake similar to the one Thibaut Courtois committed earlier by Alisson allowed the 22-year-old to level the score in the first half. Eder Militao put Carlo Ancelotti’s men early in the second half, with Karim Benzema piling on two more goals to crush the spirits at Anfield.
Liverpool’s woes in the season continue, with Jurgen Klopp coming under immense pressure from both fans and pundits. Unless Liverpool execute a miraculous turnaround in the second leg, they will have a season to forget.
RB Leipzig 1-1 Manchester City
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City dominated the proceedings at the Red Bull Arena for much of the night, but they could not convert that dominance into a victory. Ilkay Gundogan capitalised on a mistake by the hosts’ defensive unit, feeding Riyad Mahrez who scored the 12th goal of the season for the Citizens.
But the hosts returned to the field in the second half with greater resolve, with Benjamin Henrichs and Andre Silva piling pressure on the goalpost. Their efforts were rewarded when Josko Gvardiol found the back of the net with his head following a corner kick. Manchester City pleaded for a penalty kick during the last minutes of the game but were denied, leaving much work to be done at the Etihad Stadium next month.
Club Brugge 0-2 Benfica
Benfica threw away many chances in the first half of their Round of 16 fixture against Club Brugge but were able to finish the game with a 2-0 aggregate lead. Joao Mario opened the scoring for the Portuguese club, converting a penalty kick awarded to them thanks to defender Jack Hendry’s blunder. David Neres sealed the deal for the visitors by converting a defensive mistake into a goal, cutting through the home defence.
Benfica will look forward to scoring early in the second-leg fixture and ensure their passage to the quarterfinals, while for Scott Parker, much work needs to be done with the Belgian club.
AC Milan 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Brahim Diaz’s seventh-minute goal was all the difference between the Spurs and AC Milan, as Harry Kane’s side struggled to make a comeback into the game for the rest of the night. Antonio Conte returned to the touchline to guide his team, but he could only watch on as his side failed to convert many opportunities despite making promising starts. To add salt to the wounds, the hosts will be without Eric Dier for the second leg, as the 29-year-old picked up a booking during the night.
With Hugo Lloris, Yves Bissouma, Ryan Sessegnon and Rodrigo Bentancur already on the sidelines and a fight with Newcastle United in the Premier League to be dealt with, Antonio Conte will have a difficult job ahead in the coming weeks.
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 Napoli
Victor Osimhen and Giovanni Di Lorenzo scored on Tuesday night to give the Serie A leaders a straightforward victory against Eintracht Frankfurt. Napoli started pressuring the hosts’ defences right from the start, with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia missing a penalty kick from the spot. Frankfurt started a counter-attack cheered on by a jubilant home crowd, only to be caught off-guard by Hirving Lozano, feeding Victor Osimhen who converted the ball.
Another goal which followed just a minute later was ruled for off-side, but the momentum shifted to Napoli from then on. Giovanni Di Lorenzo scored the second goal in the 65th minute, with the captain’s goal sealing the deal for the visitors. Randal Kolo Muani was sent off in the second half, with the French forward scheduled to miss out on the second-leg fixture.
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Chelsea
Chelsea’s woes continued last week, with the Blues suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund. Graham Potter will rue the team’s missed chances, as both Joao Felix and Reece James floundered in front of goal. The hosts themselves looked underconfident throughout the game, with Karim Adeyemi’s 60th-minute goal the only difference between the two fledgling sides.
Expectations from Graham Potter to deliver results on the field are piling up, with the Blues spending extravagantly in the January transfer window in the hopes of turning their season around. So far, both in the Premier League and in the Champions League, such a transformation is nowhere to be seen. The only good news for Chelsea is that Karim Adeyemi will miss the second-leg fixture, which Chelsea can utilise to bridge the deficit and advance in the European tournament next month.
Inter Milan 1-0 Porto
Romelu Lukaku’s 86th-minute goal salvaged the game for Inter Milan as they struggled to overcome the challenge from a 10-man Porto. Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana denied both Zaidu Sanusi and Mehdi Taremi, as the hosts struggled to find the back of the net. Their opening came when Otavio was sent off in the 78th minute for two bookable offences, with substitute Romelu Lukaku quickly converting a rebound.
Paris Saint-Germain 0-1 Bayern Munich
Paris Saint-Germain failed to effectively utilise their talented lineup as Bayern Munich took a 1-0 lead in the Round of 16 last week. The only real difference between both sides was Kingsley Coman’s goal early in the second half. Lionel Messi’s side were content to let the visitors dominate possession, with Bayern making the most out of it by making 18 shots at the goal. In contrast, Paris Saint-Germain could only manage seven shots, with the only real threat coming in the form of the Lionel Messi-Neymar pair around the 25-minute mark.
Benjamin Pavard did the bulk of the work for Bayern Munich at the back, effectively countering Kylian Mbappe’s attacks in the second half. Kylian Mbappe did manage to find the back of the net, but the goal was ruled off-side by the VAR. Lionel Messi had a shot at the goal just minutes later, but Benjamin Pavard saved it with a brilliant block. The only consolation for the hosts was the red card to Benjamin Pavard during stoppage time.
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