Liverpool vs Real Madrid
Having secured a 1-3 away win, Real Madrid only had to hold off Liverpool for 90 minutes to book a place in the UEFA Champions League Semi-finals. Can Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool pull off another comeback against Spanish opposition, this time against Champions League Kings, Real Madrid. Liverpool started vibrantly. Like a team that needed to overcome a deficit. Sadio Mane played in Mohamed Salah but his low shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois in the second minute. Liverpool continued being the aggressors and Roberto Firmino found James Milner whose shot came with dip and curl but Courtois pulled off a stunning save to keep it level on 10.
For the first 20 minutes, it was Liverpool’s game with Zidane’s side happy to sit back and hold them off. The next goal is crucial. Benzema broke away and got his shot off and it took a deflection on the way. It hit the post and Vinicius fired the rebound but Alisson Becker saved. Casemiro – who would pick up the man of the match award for a solid display in the middle – put a horrendous tackle on Milner and the Brazilian received a booking and a warm smile from Zidane. Still, Liverpool were probing. Mane squared to Salah who shot over the crossbar. Georginio Wijnaldum got a chance after Trent Alexander-Arnold cut it back but his shot sailed over the bar on 41. An enthralling first half but Liverpool failed to take their chances and it was goalless.
Liverpool started the second half on the front foot too with TAA causing all sorts of trouble. He found Firmino who got his shot away but again Courtois saved on 46. It was a relatively quiet half as both teams canceled each other out. Diogo Jota got his shot away but Courtois made the block on 70. Benzema got a point-blank header wrong and it went narrowly over the crossbar on 81. Liverpool could not get past Thibaut Courtois and it was not for the lack of trying but it ended goalless. Real Madrid through to the semifinal where they will face Chelsea.
Borussia Dortmund vs Manchester City
This matchup was filled with goals and controversies in the first leg and there was still all to play for in the second. City dominated the game early on as they always do but Dortmund were undeterred, Dahoud tried a shot but it was easy for Ederson to collect. A Dortmund counterattack and a rebound fell kindly for Jude Bellingham just outside the box and he lashed his shot straight into the top corner. Dortmund drew first blood. 1-0 with 15 minutes played’.
City played the waiting game here looking for an opportunity to pounce. Kevin de Bruyne fired a shot from the edge of the box but it crashed off the crossbar. Bernardo Silva spurned a chance as his header from a rebound went wide. Riyad Mahrez got the next chance as he arrived in the box to fire a low shot that beat Marwin Hitz but it was cleared off the line. Dortmund survived. 5ft7 Oleksandr Zinchenko got a header and he drew a stunning save from Hitz as the game remained 1-0. City finished the half strong despite losing. Dortmund led at halftime.
“There are certain criteria that a player should meet, I had Can for a few months in 2012/2013. He trained in kicking with a pendulum ball. This is the ABC of football, this should be already a mastered skill at this point. He is a good boy. He has developed nicely, he’s dynamic, powerful, but in my opinion, if Bayern wants to be a dominating team in Europe, there should be a specific player with certain abilities in every position. For me it’s also important that the footballing concept is at a very high level, not only physicality, speed, no, many abilities play a role. That’s how I see it.” Jupp Heyneckes once said about Emre Can. Scathing assessment from the legendary Bayern boss but on 55 that report was proven right.
The German midfielder handled the ball in the box and gave a penalty to City which Mahrez converted. 1-1. From a De Bruyne cross, Rodri’s header crashed off the crossbar on 58. City were asking all the questions now and looking dangerous, De Bruyne drew another brilliant save from Hitz with a low shot from outside the box. A short corner routine caught Dortmund off guard and Phil Foden had space to shoot. The English midfielder found the bottom corner, in off the bar and City put the tie to an end. The scoreline was a repeat of the first leg as it finished 1-2. Manchester City will face French giants PSG in the semifinal.