Wednesday night saw the second instalment of the Champions League last 16 first legs, as Real Madrid and Liverpool recorded big victories. Here is what happened in those all-important Champions League first leg ties:
In a game that was billed as a clash between two of the main candidates to win the competition, European champions Real Madrid showed their European experience.
The visitors actually struck first in this clash 33 minutes. A move involving Neymar and Kylian Mbappe resulted in the ball finding itself to PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who fired over Keylor Navas. The home side on stroke of half-time. Giovani Lo Celso brought Toni Kroos down in the penalty area and Cristiano Ronaldo made no mistake from the spot to fire home his hundredth European goal for the Spanish giants.
Just as the game looked to be heading for a draw, Real Madrid took the lead with just seven minutes left on the clock. Substitute Marcos Asensio played a key role in the second, as the youngsters cross found its way into the net off Ronaldo’s knee. Three minutes later Brazilian full-back Marcelo drove home a third goal for the Spanish giants.
Real Madrid and boss Zinedine Zidane needed the victory, as they still have a tough second leg to come in Paris on 6th March. Zidane’s team remain one of the favourites to lift the Champions League trophy.
Liverpool headed into the clash against Porto as favourites to progress to the last-8 in this tie and they certainly proved their credentials in this clash at the Dragao.
The Reds took the lead on 25 minutes, as Porto goalkeeper Jose Sa let Sadio Mane’s low effort slip under his body. Four minutes later and Jurgen Klopp’s side doubled their lead. James Milner’s shot hit the post and rebounded back to Mohamed Salah, who chipped the ball over Sa before scoring from close-range.
The Reds scored the third goal on 53 minutes, Mane reacting the quickest after Sa had saved a Roberto Firmino effort. Firmino added the fourth goal on 69 minutes after good work by James Milner. Mane completed the scoring with just five minutes left on the clock by drilling an effort past Sa in the Porto goal.
The victory was certainly an emphatic one and was achieved by such a margin that it looks almost impossible for the Portuguese side to recover the tie at Anfield in the second leg.
Europa League returns
The Europa League also returns this week, with some big teams taking part in Europe’s elite competition. One of those teams is Premier League Arsenal, who have been drawn against Swedish surprise package Ostersunds, managed by Englishman Graham Potter.
Arsene Wenger’s side will be favourites to progress but will need to beware of complacency. The home side have a very good home record in the Europa League in their debut campaign in European competition. The Swedish side have won five of their six home games in the Europa League while keeping five clean sheets in the process. With Arsenal’s away form being unconvincing, they will have to be careful in this game.
Other Europa League ties:
Astana v Sporting Lisbon
Dortmund v Atalanta
Nice v Lokomotiv Moscow
Spartak Moscow v Athletic Bilbao
Real Sociedad v Salzburg
Ludogorets v AC Milan
Marseille v Braga
FC Copenhagen v Atletico Madrid
AEK Athens v Dynamo Kiev
Celtic v Zenit
Napoli v RB Leipzig
Lyon v Villarreal
Partizan Belgrade v Viktoria Plzen
Steaua Bucharest v Lazio
Can PSG still progress to the Champions League quarter-finals?