All eight teams have now booked their slots in the quarter-finals of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, with the second leg of the Round of 16 fixtures concluding yesterday. Manchester United, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain failed to progress in the tournament, while Atletico Madrid and Villarreal have defied expectations to cruise ahead. The draw for the quarter-finals along with the finals will be held tomorrow, and teams will be travelling across the continent in the first week of April.
Ahead of the quarter-final draw, here’s our review of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second-leg fixtures:
BAYERN MUNICH 7-1 RED BULL SALZBURG
One of the favourites to win the tournament, Bayern Munich have continued with their near-faultless campaign with a 7-1 victory over RB Salzburg in the second leg. Robert Lewandowski did the bulk of the work for the Bavarians once more, as he scored a hat-trick inside the first 25 minutes of the game. Goals from Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller added to the tally in the first half, before Maurits Kjaergaard scored the only goal for the Austrian club. Back-to-back goals from Muller and Leroy Sane took Bayern’s goal tally to 30 in the tournament.
MANCHESTER CITY 0-0 SPORTING CP
Manchester City had a relatively dull second leg, given the 5-0 advantage they had going into the game. Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were both given game time, and Guardiola even experimented with reserve goalkeeper Scott Carson in the last moments of the game. Despite resting key players, Manchester City enjoyed 69% of the possession, showing the extent of the gap between the powerhouse at Etihad Stadium and the rest of the teams.
Pep Guardiola is firmly focussed on the Premier League, where the Citizens are just one point ahead of Liverpool after this week’s fixtures. A frustrating 0-0 draw against minnows Crystal Palace and Liverpool’s emphatic 2-0 win over Arsenal means that the Citizens won’t get an opportunity to rest and rotate players like they have done so far this season. An unlucky draw might spell more troubles in their quest for the treble.
BENFICA 1-0 AJAX
Benfica stunned Ajax on Tuesday to enter the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time since 2016. Ajax and Benfica drew the first leg tie 2-2, and the Dutch side were the clear favourites going into the game. Ajax were one of the three teams that had enjoyed an unbeaten run in the tournament, alongside Liverpool and Bayern Munich. An early goal by Sebastian Haller was disallowed for being offside. Ajax never created any solid chances after that, with none of the hosts’ 16 attempts hitting the mark.
A 77th-minute header off a free kick by Darwin Nunez was the defining moment of the game, with Ajax’s hopes for a moment of magic in the final moments never coming to fruition. Benfica now enjoy an eight-match unbeaten streak across competitions and would like to progress further than the quarter-final stage.
CHELSEA 2-1 LILLE
Thomas Tuchel’s Blues secured a comprehensive 2-1 victory against Lille at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Wednesday. Chelsea entered the fixture with a 2-0 aggregate lead, but transition troubles and doubts about the future of the club hung in the background throughout the game. Burak Yilmaz opened the scoring for Lille after Jorginho handled the ball, and the London-based side realised the stakes of the game quickly.
Christian Pulisic pulled the visitors back into contention by scoring in first-half injury time, and skipper Cesar Azpilicueta finished the game by finding the back of the net with 19 minutes remaining in the game. The defending champions are eager to secure another continental trophy in their cabinet, as the Premier League is almost out of their reach. Thomas Tuchel’s men have not lost a single game since last December, and they will be hoping to secure an easy draw tomorrow.
ATLETICO MADRID 1-0 MANCHESTER UNITED
Manchester United’s campaign to win silverware with Cristiano Ronaldo on their side ended in disappointment after they succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid. Ralf Rangnick’s side entered the fixture with confidence courtesy of a hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo against Tottenham Hotspur in the previous game but were unable to break the resilience of the Spanish champions. The Red Devils dominated possession throughout the game, but could not break past the defensive wall constructed by Diego Simeone.
A far-post header from Renan Lodi four minutes before half-time proved to be the only goal, and that was enough to take Atletico through to the next round. With the defending Spanish champions facing stiff competition in La Liga, the win at Old Trafford will give the team a boost for the next few weeks.
VILLARREAL 3-0 JUVENTUS
Villarreal stunned Juventus on Wednesday with three late goals to win the game. With the tie finely poised at 1-1 after the first leg, Massimiliano Allegri’s men dominated the first half and much of the second half in possession. Villarreal were content to sit back and bide their time, and it came in the form of a penalty in the 78th minute. Gerard Moreno put the visitors in the front before Pau Torres took the game away from the Turin-based side.
The Yellow Submarine piled more misery on the Italians when Arnaut Danjuma converted another penalty in stoppage time to finish a 3-0 victory. Unai Emery will be content with his side’s performance in the tournament so far, but progressing beyond the quarter-finals will be a tough task given the quality of teams left in the knockout rounds.
LIVERPOOL 0-1 INTER MILAN
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool stuttered in the second leg against 10-man Inter Milan, but nevertheless progressed to the quarter-finals thanks to a 2-0 aggregate lead going into the fixture. Lautaro Martinez’s 62nd-minute drive into the top corner was the only highlight of the night as Liverpool looked relatively laid-back at Anfield. The Reds created quite a few chances in the first half, but once again went back into defensive mode after Alexis Sanchez’s sending off.
The loss to Inter was the first taste of defeat for Jurgen Klopp and his team in a long time, and it should put the Anfield side on high alert going ahead. With a 2-0 victory over Arsenal, Liverpool now look within striking distance of a quadruple.
REAL MADRID 3-1 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Real Madrid executed a fairy-tale comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain to progress to the quarter-finals. Kylian Mbappe’s stoppage-time goal allowed the Parisians to take a crucial 1-0 advantage in the first leg, and the star forward once again opened the scoring last week with a near-post finish in the first half. But Karim Benzema’s heroics in the second-half pulled the game back for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
The 34-year-old capitalised on a mistake by Gianluigi Donnarumma to level the scores, before scoring two goals in quick succession to give Real Madrid a 3-2 aggregate lead. Lionel Messi’s side looked clueless for the rest of the game, and their hopes of winning the continental tournament have to wait one more year, if not more.
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