Saturday, March 19, 2011

Champions' League Round of 16 Round Up: March 15 and 16

Manchester United 2-1 Marseille (2-1 Agg.): After drawing 0-0 at Marseille, Manchester United nervously defeated the French at home. Sir Alex Ferguson decided to start Javier Hernandez ahead of Dimitar Berbatov, and that choice paid off. In the 5th minute, Hernandez tapped in Ryan Giggs' pass to put United up 1-0, and ahead on aggregate. Despite having less chances on goal, and being very lucky that Marseille didn't equalize, Chicharito put another into the back of the net in the 75th minute, giving the Red Devils some breathing room. But, in the 82nd, Wes Brown conceded an own goal, and United were waiting nervously for the final whistle. Luckily for them, Marseille weren't able to capitalize on their pressure and United went through to the Quarter-finals.

Bayern Munich 2-3 Inter Milan (3-3 Agg.): In the rematch of last year's final, Bayern were coming off of a high after defeating the Italians 1-0 at the San Siro, Inter's home. Samuel Eto'o put the Italians ahead in the 3rd minute, but that's not how the rest of the match would go. In the 21st minute, Julio Cesar gifted the Germans the lead, tapping Mario Gomez's shot over his own head and into the back of the net. 10 minutes later, Munich was 2-1 up when Lucio was unable to clear Arjen Robben's pass, and the ball fell straight to the feet of young Thomas Muller. The German made no mistake, putting the ball into the back of the net easily. Until the 63rd minute, Bayern was easily controlling the game, and creating many chances off of Inter mistakes. Then, Wesley Sneijder skillfully fired from 25 yards out to put Inter back into the game. Then, the unthinkable happened. In the 88th, Eto'o put the ball across to Goran Pandev, who made no mistake firing into the top corner, completing an amazing comeback, and putting Inter through.

Real Madrid 3-0 Olympique Lyon (4-1 Agg.): Following the 1-1 draw in Marseille, Real had given Lyon hopes of advancing past the Spaniards for the second year running. Sadly for the French, this would not be their day. After Real had been testing Lyon's keeper Hugo Lloris with many chances, Marcelo finally put Madrid ahead after playing a wonderful give-and-go with Cristiano Ronaldo, and sliding the ball past Lloris. Soon after, former Lyon star Karim Benzema almost put Real up 2-0, but saw his strike saved again by Lloris. The in-form Benzema then put Real ahead by 2 after continuously threatening Lyon's goal. The French then called Iker Casillas into action in the 71st, but the Spaniard skillfully saved Bafetimbi Gomis' bottom corner strike. 5 minutes later, it was all over for Lyon. Angel Di Maria calmly tapped Mesut Ozil's header of Hugo Lloris to make sure that Lyon had no chances of coming back Inter style. 

Chelsea 0-0 FC Copenhagen (2-0 Agg.): With the Blues back in form recently, they were hoping for an easy victory against the lowly Danish. Honestly, there's not that much to report here, other than the fact that Chelsea missed an amazing 29 chances, in comparison to Copenhagen's 8. Fernando Torres still hasn't found his form at Stamford Bridge, and was warming the bench in favor of Didier Drogba. With Drogba's striking partner Nicolas Anelka was relatively ineffective, Fernando Torres came in hoping to score his first goal for the Londoners, but couldn't do so, allowing Johan Wiland to keep a clean sheet. It was a shame that the Danes couldn't do so at home, and that allowed Chelsea to go through to the Quarter-finals. This performance really doesn't assure their status at contenders for the Champions' League championship.

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