With half of the fixtures ending in draws, there were some interesting developments in the Champions League.
Real Sociedad 0:0 Manchester United
Spaniards snatch a draw thanks to Wooden Van Persie.
Robin Van Persie hit the woodwork twice and the Reds squandered numerous chances to come away from Spain with only a draw. With Shakhtar and Leverkusen drawing in the other tie, it leaves United’s hopes of qualification still in the balance. A tough trip to Germany is next and they must win that to avoid potentially being in an all or nothing final game against Shakhtar.
Manchester City 5:2 CSKA Moscow (Aguero 3’(pen) , 20’ / Negredo 30’ 51’ 90’ / Doumbia 45’, 71’(pen)
Negredo hattrick sinks CSKA as City book their place in last 16!
City cruised to victory at Eastlands with an extremely efficient display of attacking play which left them 3:0 up at the half hour mark. It’s the first time the Blues have progressed to this stage of the competition having failed to do so in their last two campaigns.
Shaktar Donetsk 0:0 Bayer Leverkusen
Shaktar qualification still possible after gritty draw.
Shaktar clung onto hopes of qualifying by managing a draw against the visiting Germans. It leaves them only needing a win against Group A’s bottom club Sociedad to edge closer to the dream of qualification. Leverkusen will be most disappointed with the draw. A win for them could’ve sent them a point ahead of United at the top of the group table. However their fate lies in their own hands. A win against the Reds at home should all but book their place in the last 16.
FC Copenhagen 1:0 Galatasaray (Braaten 6’)
Copenhagen shock win leaves group wide open.
The curse of failing to qualify through the group phases seems a very real one for Roberto Mancini. Having failed with Manchester City in his previous job, a shock defeat against Copenhagen dented their chances of qualification this season. With Juventus drawing once again, the Turks had a golden opportunity to cement the second spot in Group B. The loss leaves the group wide open as even bottom of the group Juventus, only a point behind these two sides can still qualify.
Juventus 2:2 Real Madrid (Vidal 42’, Ronaldo 52’, Bale 60’, Llorente 65’)
Dominant Juve denied as Casillas saves Madrid’s blushes.
Juve coach Antonio Conte hinted before the game that his side would go all out for a win and the Bianconeri didn’t disappoint. The home side put Madrid under some serious pressure in the 1st half and were it not for heroics from Real’s veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas could’ve gone into the break a couple of goals up. The crucial moment in the game which stunned the home side came just after half time. Cáceres, who’d been magnificent for most of the game made a defensive howler with a pass back which gifted Ronaldo a goal against the run of play. Still reeling from that goal, the away side took advantage of Bianconeri’s lapse in concentration taking the lead with a Gareth Bale goal, his first in the Champion’s league for Real. Juve responded immediately with an equalizer and despite pressing for a winner in the last 20 minutes, Real held on thanks to a few more excellent saves from Casillas. Juventus must now win their remaining two games to keep their European dream alive.
Olympiakos 1:0 Benfica (Manolas 13’)
The Greeks edge closer to qualification with a hard fought win.
Olympiakos continue to justify their label as the surprise package of the Champion’s league this season. Despite some extensive Benfica pressure, the home side managed to grind out another win despite having only two shots on target in the whole game. A win from their next two games will secure their progression in to the next round and no one deserves it more.
Paris Saint Germain 1:1 FC Anderlecht (de Zeeuw 68’, Ibrahimovic 70’)
PSG dominate but Anderlecht come away with miraculous draw
Laurent Blanc had warned his side against complacency coming into this match, it appears the advice fell on deaf ears. Despite enjoying most of the possession the French side lacked the killer instinct as the Belgians appeared hungrier on the night. Their tenacity was rewarded when the visitors surprised everyone by taking the lead with just 20 minutes remaining. That sparked the home side into action as they equalized almost immediately with Ibrahimovic’s 7th goal of the tournament. Despite the draw PSG’s progression remains almost certain.
FC Viktoria Plzeň 0:1 Bayern Munich (Mandzukic 65’)
Czechs fight valiantly but finally succumb to German pressure.
The score line doesn’t quite do justice to how one sided this game really was. Bayern were as dominant as ever. It really made no difference in any case since the German side’s goal difference hardly needed boosting. Bayern went through to the next round as Group D leaders.
image: © Jan S0L0