The 1st Leg fixtures of the Round of 16 has been completed with Russians and French celebrating, while the English and German clubs are lamenting not being able to do better.
By Camilla Mancini
The first leg fixtures of the knockout stage were played between Feb. 14th and Feb. 22nd and definitively brought us some good shows, as well as a couple of surprises, like Zenit, Basel and Marseille last minute triumphs or the draw between CSKA Moscow and the all-time favorites Merengues. Furthermore, it seems like the saints were supporting their teams during this first games, for Zenit won with that late goal at Saint Petersburg; Arsenal had no luck against Milan at San Siro; Chelsea could only score once at San Paolo Stadium and Basel triumphed 1-0 at St. Jakob-Park. Anyway this was just the 1st leg and the last 16 will have to wait a couple of weeks more to battle for the ticket to the quarterfinals. Some squads do have an advantage now, but in football you never know what can happen, especially with clubs from this level; therefore let’s review the results from this week while we wait, for the 2nd leg encounters.
February 21st – PFC CSKA Moskva 1-1 Real Madrid: The ball possession was quite even, however the chances of scoring were fewer for the Russians and that made us all think that it was going to end up in a victory for the Spaniards. Besides the record that the Merengues were holding after the Group Stage, was placing them as the favorites to win and Ronaldo’s first half goal, raised hopes in the Spaniards’ side. Nonetheless an opportunity to score arrived during the injury time from second half and the new army man, Pontus Wernbloom, grabbed it to place his first goal with CSKA Moscow.
Napoli 3-1 Chelsea: at this fine match the Italians showed the Blues that it doesn’t matter how much ball possession you have, but to handle it right every time. Andre Villas-Boas’ men controlled the ball throughout the entire game, but were able to score only once at the 27’ with a strike from Juan Mata. Afterwards pretty much every time Napoli touched the ball there was a goal. First the man of the match, Ezequiel Lavezzi, leveled by hitting the ball in a perfect curl that went beyond Cech. The tie was broken during the pre-break injury time when Edinson Cavani used his shoulder to score. By the second half Lavezzi punished Meireless for giving away the ball to Cavani, who passed it to the Argentinean for the 3-1.
February 22nd – FC Basel 1-0 Bayern Munich: Basel stood up firmly to the Bavarians and conquered the match with an unforeseen late strike that gave the Swiss the upper hand against Bayern. The game was quite thrilling with both clubs continuously attacking and getting closer to score, especially in the first half, however none could delivered until the 86’. The Swiss Valentin Stocker killed the Bundesliga giants with a strike that passed in between the legs of Manuel Neuer straight in to the bottom of the net.
Olympique de Marseille 1-0 Internazionale Milano: The match was actually pretty even with both clubs briskly fighting back but another late goal saved the day for one of the squads. L’OM followed the example of its compatriot Lyon and defeated its southern rival with a 1-0, but in this case the goal was placed in the very last minute at the Stade Velodrome. The victory was settled with a headed goal by Andre Ayew with three minutes into the extra time.
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