Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Champions League Quarterfinals: First Legs

Well, this is rather disappointing. Only 1 of these matches will be truly contested in the second leg, that being the Manchester United vs. Chelsea clash. All of the other ties will have teams try to overcome near-impossible deficits, but who knows? Crazy things happen.

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United (Agg. 0-1): Despite Chelsea coming back into form recently, their efforts weren't enough and gave the Red Devils their first win at Stamford Bridge since 2002. In the 24th, after an amazing piece of play from 37 year old Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney put away the simple tap in from 6 yards out. Chelsea kept putting the pressure on United, with Patrice Evra having to clear a Frank Lampard effort off of the line to hold Man U's lead. Then, in the dying minutes of the game, Evra clearly fouled a charging Ramires in the penalty area, but a spot-kick wasn't given. In a desperate attempt to draw, Fernando Torres later dove in the box, but was only awarded a yellow card.

Barcelona 5-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (Agg. 5-1): Well, here's the first of the hugely one-sided matches. Just 2 minutes into the match, Andres Iniesta put in the first for the Catalans, with a low shot from an interception off of a loose ball. Despite dominating later on, Barca let the Ukranians have a few chances which definitely put a scare in the Spanish giants. Then in the 34th, the goalscorer slotted a perfect pass to Dani Alves, who only had to put the ball into an empty net. Gerard Pique made it 3-0 for Barca after taking a shot from a corner first time, and the ball was helped in with a deflection off of Rakitskiy. The Ukrainian defender redeemed himself in the 59th, heading Srna's free-kick past Victor Valdes to get a consolation goal. But, Seydou Keita then powered a shot into the back of Shakhtar's net after Leo Messi worked hard to get past his man and then pass it to the waiting Keita. Finally, Barcelona killed the match off with a Xavi goal in the 86th minute, basically ending Shakhtar's chances of advancing.

Real Madrid 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Agg. 4-0):  After promising to score against the Spurs for the Arsenal fans, Emmanuel Adebayor did indeed do so. Twice, actually. Early in the 4th, Adebayor, who was marked by the puny Jenas, put a header past Luka Modric on the post to give Real the lead. Stupidly, after already being on a yellow, Peter Crouch earned his second and was sent off in only the 15th minute of the match. Despite being denied a penalty, Real put a second one into the back of the net in the 57th minute, with Adebayor once again scoring from a stunning header. Then, in the 72nd, Angel Di Maria scored one of the Champions' League goals of the season, with a curler from the right into the top left corner of the goal. Hoping for the goal to kill off the tie in the 87th, Cristiano Ronaldo took a hopeful shot, which somehow found the net thanks to a dumb mistake from Gomes, the Spurs keeper.

Inter Milan 2-5 Schalke 04 (Agg. 2-5): Looking to bounce back from their 3-0 loss in the Milan derby, Inter desperately wanted a win. But a comeback of this magnitude by the Germans was not expected by anyone. Inter was up 1-0 in the 1st minute thanks to a wonderful volley from Dejan Stankovic. 16 minutes later, Schalke leveled from a corner kick, with Joel Matip putting the ball in the back of the net. Diego Milito restored the lead of the Italians, when he finished off with smooth strike from Cambiasso's header. 5 minutes from half-time, the pesky Germans equalized, with Edu scoring after his first shot was saved by Julio Cesar. Then, it was time for Inter to hit the self destruct button. In the 53rd, former Real Madrid man Raul put his 70th Champions' League goal into the back of the net, after Farfan had worked hard to get the ball to him. 4 minutes later, Andrea Ranocchia scored an own goal in an attempt Jurado's cross. 15 minutes from full time, Edu put the final nail in Inter Milan's coffin, with an absolutely fantastic strike from outside the box, leaving Julio Cesar stranded.

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