UEFA Champions League Round of 16 week
This Champions League week had pretty shocking results and turn arounds this week. Out of four matches, three had the outcome of seeing the defeated team in the first leg make a comeback and ultimately qualify in the quarter-finals.
Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (3-5 aggregate)
First leg: Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid
Holders Real Madrid crashed out of the Champions League as Ajax produced a stunning 4-1 victory in the Santiago Bernabeu to reach the quarter-finals. Los Blancos, with captain Sergio Ramos suspended after deliberately collecting a yellow card in the first leg, had been looking to build on a slender 2-1 lead from that game in Amsterdam and stay on course for a potential fourth straight European triumph. However, after Raphael Varane’s header rattled the crossbar, Ajax raced into an early lead through Hakim Ziyech before Dusan Tadic set up David Neres for a second in the 18th minute. Real Madrid were forced into two changes when Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior went off injured, with substitute Gareth Bale hitting the post just before half-time. Ajax looked to have put the tie to bed when Tadic swept in a brilliant third goal just after the hour – which was eventually given following an extensive Video Assistant Referee review to check if the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.
Substitute Marco Asensio briefly gave Real hope when he put the ball in off the post with 20 minutes left. Lasse Schone, though, capped a brilliant night for Erik Ten Hag’s side when he curled in an angled free-kick over Thibaut Courtois on 72 minutes. Real finished with 10 men after Nacho picked up two needless late cautions. The defeat was a fourth successive home loss for Los Blancos following on from being beaten by arch-rivals Barcelona in LaLiga on Saturday – and will see pressure mount on manager Santiago Solari.
This result is as shocking as it comes, especially since Ajax has made the knock-out stages for the first time since falling in the round of 16 to Inter Milan in the 2005/06 season. The Dutch giants therefore make their first appearance in the Champions League quarter-finals since the 2002/03 season, where they were eliminated by Milan.
Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 aggregate)
First leg: Manchester United 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Manchester United have shockingly defeated Paris Saint-Germain to make the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals — progressing on the away goals tiebreaker after a 3-3 aggregate draw — thanks to a stunning VAR decision that handed them a penalty in stoppage time. A hopeful shot by Diego Dalot hit the arm of Presnel Kimpembe and bounced out for a corner, a result that everyone seemed OK with. But the referee went to the VAR stand to make sure, and came back with a shocking decision.
There’s no question that the ball hit Kimpembe’s arm in the penalty area. But with his back turned, his arm in a natural position, and no attempt by him to play the ball with his arm, it’s not a penalty most officials would give. PSG are going to be furious, and you’ll probably see UEFA forced to issue an explanation of whether or not the ref applied the rules properly. Marcus Rashford was the one who stepped up to the spot for United, and he delivered the game-winner with a perfect penalty.
While PSG will feel conned by the decision to give United a penalty, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves for not winning the match outright well beforehand. Injuries forced United to start a lineup they hadn’t used all season, featuring bit-part players like Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, and Fred. Central defender Eric Bailly had to play at right back and made numerous mistakes before he was substituted in the first half. PSG shouldn’t have had a problem scoring multiple goals. Instead, the most clinical finisher on the field was Romelu Lukaku, who scored two goals to give United the chance for that controversial penalty to be a game-winner. Lukaku pounced on a mistake in the second minute, then did excellently to round Gianluigi Buffon and finish from a tight angle.
Porto 3-1 Roma (4-3 aggregate)
First leg: Roma 2-1 Porto
Porto deservedly booked their place in the UEFA Champions League quarter finals after beating Roma 4-3 on aggregate. The Portughese had dominated possession and been impressive on the counter for the first 25 minutes before a goal eventually came. Moussa Marega dispossessed Konstantinos Manolas just inside Roma’s half, allowing Jesus Corona to burst forward. The Mexican winger played a neat pass to the overlapping Marega who squared it nicely for Tiquinho to tap home from close range.
Roma claimed their goal from nothing 10 minutes later. A poorly timed tackle in the box from Eder Miltao on Perotti gave the referee no option but to point to the spot. Captain Daniele De Rossi calmly slotted home the penalty to put his side ahead in the tie. Marega took the game to extra time after he volleyed home a Corona cross as Porto struggled to take control of the second half.
Just when a penalty shootout was looming a penalty given by VAR decided the match for the Dragons. Alessandro Florenzi was spotted tugging Fernando’s shirt and after an extensive VAR review the penalty was given. Brazilian full-back Alex Telles converted the penalty and sent Porto through to the last eight.
Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur (0-4 aggregate)
Tottenham Hotspur weathered a first-half storm from Borussia Dortmund to win 1-0 at the Westfalenstadion and book their place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, going through 4-0 on aggregate.
Harry Kane scored three minutes after half-time to take the wind out of the home side’s sails after they had laid siege to the Spurs goal. Dortmund were very much in the ascendancy in the opening exchanges, Tottenham happy to sit back and soak up the pressure with their commanding first-leg lead. But they were finding it tough to breach the Spurs defence before Marco Reus saw his deflected effort kept out by Hugo Lloris in the 21st minute. Mario Gotze then saw his effort from the edge of the box blocked by Christian Eriksen. Gotze then saw his effort kept out by Lloris at full stretch as the home side piled on the pressure, before the goalkeeper blocked a shot from Jadon Sancho. But Spurs managed to take stock as the first half drew to a close and kept their three-goal aggregate lead intact.
The aggregate lead became four just three minutes after the break as Kane kept his cool to fire past Roman Burki. Moussa Sissoko played the England captain in, who was played onside and made no mistake from the edge of the area. Kane then almost added a second straight afterwards but his attempt to catch Burki off his line from distance sailed well wide. The goal knocked the stuffing out of Dortmund, and Spurs were able to see out the remainder of the game in relative comfort. Lloris kept out an effort from Paco Alcacer with his feet in the final moments, before Erik Lamela headed wide from close range.