Champions League: Poor finishing behind Barcelona exit, Bayern Munich undone by refereeing decisions

Real Madrid, Juventus, Monaco, Atletico Madrid are through to the semi-final stage of the Champions League.

Written by Karan Prashant Saxena | New Delhi | Published: April 20, 2017 5:38 pm
Champions League. Champions League semifinal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Sports The top four teams were decided after second leg of the Champions League quarters concluded on Wednesday night.

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich was a thriller with each side having their share of moments in the second leg of the Champions League quarters. There was no dearth of intent from both sides. While Bayern goalie Manuel Neuer, on broken legs, was on the field for ten minutes and Mats Hummels played through 120 minutes without full fitness.

For Real, Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the night as the ace forward netted a perfect hat-trick against one of the finest goalies in the business. The goals went Ronaldo’s way but the unsung hero of the night for victorious Real was Marcelo who gave one of the finest performance of his career. A media report described the 28-year old as a “cyclone at both ends”.

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Marcelo was thinking on his fight right through the game and it was evident when he cleared chances from Thiago Silva and Arjen Robben, and also had an insane run to open up 10-man Bayern mid-field. The defender timed the run perfectly and fed the ball to Ronaldo. The winger completed his hat-trick, and also scored his 100th Champions League goal. While many celebrated the milestone goal, most were left with a bitter taste in the mouth after linesman failed to spot an off-side for the second time in the match.

From 100th goal to need for technology

“I think that in quarter-finals, you must use a referee with more quality… I think it’s time to install the video because there are too many mistakes,” a furious Bayern Manager Carlo Ancelotti said after the match. Vidal called the result “a robbery” and said, “It is very tough when they steal a game from you like that — two goals offside and me wrongly sent off… such a robbery cannot happen.”

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What actions UEFA will take after such a huge debacle, only time will tell. But for now, Zinedine Zidane can cherish that he survived the herculean task of taking down the German Champions.

Barcelona fail to breach Juve wall

Another giant to bid farewell to Champions League in the quarters stage were Barcelona. In Luis Enrique’s final appearance as Barcelona manager in the competition, the Catalans failed to breach the formidable Juventus defence of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

Coming into the leg 0-3 down, Barca had a mountain to climb. They needed their forward line to be at their best but that wasn’t the case. Juventus defenders didn’t allow both Lionel Messi and Neymar enough time, and space in the box. The first time Messi came close to scoring was in the 66th minute when he was one-on-one against Buffon but the Argentinian made a mess. He flew the ball into the stands and added to frustration of supporters, and spectators. In last six years, this was the first time Messi had five shots off target.

A fairy tale ends, another extends

The dream run for defending English Champions Leicester City ended at quarters stage. Leicester held Atletico Madrid 1-1 on the night but were down 1-2 on aggregate. The early away goal gave the Spanish side a healthy advantage and put Leicester on the mat early in the contest. It was always too much ground to cover and Atletico conceded just one goal to make their way to the last-four stage.

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At Stade Louis, the fairy tale for 18-year old striker Kylian Mbappe continued. The youngster scored his fifth goal in the tournament when he found the net in the 3rd minute against Borussia Dortmund. He became the first player in Champions League history to score a goal in his first four knockout fixtures in the tournament. Monaco won the match with 3-1 (6-3) scoreline, and made their way to semi-final stages for the first time since 2004.

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