Four of the UEFA Champions League’s quarter-final spots have been decided after an exciting round of midweek fixtures. So here’s how it happened and who’s looking good going ahead.
Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich qualify for the quarter-finals at the expense of an unlucky Fiorentina side on Tuesday. The Italians dominated proceedings in wet conditions at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but Arjen Robben’s individual brilliance ultimately claimed the tie for the Bavarians.
Indeed, after goals from Juan Vargas and Stevan Jovetic had put Fiorentina 2-0 up, it appeared Viola would be progressing but Bayern are made of stern stuff. Franck Ribery’s magic on the left-wing before setting up Mark Van Bommel for Bayern’s first was marvellous, but Robben’s solo goal was pure gold.
Individual brilliance certainly was the theme of the night, and while it rained from above, during a frantic 11 second-half minutes it rained individual brilliance on the park. In fact, the game saw four goals in eleven minutes as the tie see-sawed, but eventually it turned in Bayern’s favour.
Nevertheless, Bayern boss Louis van Gaal stated after the game: “We have seen what we are still lacking. We have to improve on that. We can play a dominant game, but we did not do so over 90 minutes today, the way we should.”
After losing the first-leg in Portugal by conceding two sloppy goals, Arsenal came out of the blocks fast at the Emirates and Nicklas Bendtner’s tenth minute goal set them on their way. He doubled his tally soon after, and Arsenal seemed in control from then on, even without injured skipper Cesc Fabregas.
French midfielder Samir Nasri impressively filled in with Fabregas out along with Tomas Rosicky & Andriy Andriy Arshavin and they were at the heart of much of Arsenal’s tidy football in the first-half.
With Arsenal two nil up at the break, Porto almost levelled the tie on aggregate when sub Cristian Rodriguez’s header was saved on the line, but minutes later the match was settled. Nasri’s brilliant individual goal and Emmanuel Eboue’s strike had the Gunners in cruise control, before Bendtner completed his hat-trick in injury-time from the spot.
Afterwards Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: “We did what we like to do, we won with style.” He added about the quarter-finals, “I have a funny feeling that maybe it is good for us to play an English team.”
Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils cruised into the quarter-final stage with a comfortable victory over Italian giants AC Milan, as David Beckham returned to Old Trafford. It was a fairly one-sided tie and that’s a real positive for United.
Wayne Rooney’s 13th minute headed goal pretty much settled the tie, considering Milan’s 3-2 home loss in the first-leg, and it was the same man who doubled the Red Devils advantage early in the second stanza to begin the party at Old Trafford.
On 59 minutes, Park Ji-Sung scored before Beckham entered the fray as a sub to an appreciate Manchester crowd who saw Darren Fletcher seal an emphatic triumph with a late header.
Ferguson commented: “When we play with that tempo we are very difficult to play against. [It was] a very solid Manchester United performance.” He added about the quarter-final draw: “With that kind of team, it doesn’t matter who we play.”
Real Madrid’s hopes of winning the European Champions League trophy on their own turf (with the final set for the Bernabeu this season) are over after French club Lyon knocked them out in dramatic circumstances. Claude Puel’s men worked hard over the course of the tie and probably deserved the victory.
But early in Madrid that didn’t appear likely, when Cristiano Ronaldo broke in behind the Lyon defence to score through Hugo Lloris’ legs. Real then proceeded to fail to make the most of a series of great first-half chances with Gonzalo Higuain missing several.
And they’d live to regret those misses, as Lyon piled on the pressure after the break and finally they made it count when Miralem Pjanic fired home with 15 minutes to go. It left Real needing two late goals, but it was Lyon who went closest, with the Bernabeu silent, as Lisandro Lopez fired wide. Still Lyon celebrated a memorable win.
Lyon boss Claude Puel said after the game: “It was a nice night out. In the first half Real Madrid posed plenty of problems for us. … In the second half we deserved to qualify.” While under-pressure Real manager Manuel Pellegrini commented: “Getting to the final was the ambition of everyone here so the elimination is very painful.”