Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Champions League round up

Posted on 18 February 2021 by Jeremy Addley

Miss any of the mid-week Champions League action? We’ve got you covered!

RB Leipzig 0:2 Liverpool (Puskas Arena, Hungary)

One of the numerous games affected by Covid-19 travel restrictions, the first leg had to be relocated from Leipzig to Budapest.

From the get-go Liverpool were able to get the ball in behind the defence, with Sadio Mane looking like he was back to his best. The early warning signs were there for Leipzig, after Peter Gulacsi was forced into early action to deny a Mohamed Salah chip.

Mané came close after 24 minutes with a header just over the bar followed up by a Robertson rocket from long range that landed on the roof of the net.

Leipzig’s constant sloppy passing was only increasing the Reds’ confidence, although it wasn’t until the 53rd minute that Liverpool finally made their German opponents pay. A misplaced back pass by captain Marcel Sabitzer saw Salah pounce and slot it into the bottom corner.

Liverpool would further add to their tally after Curtis Jones found Mané up the wing. It looked a routine clearance for Dayot Upamecano, but he uncharacteristically missed the ball and allowed the Senegalese forward in to slot it home.

After the tumultuous run of form Liverpool have been on, this was the perfect ‘get right’ game and it had Jurgen Klopp full of praise for his side.

“The boys played a really good game and deserved the win. [We] forced them to make mistakes [and] we played good football. I am happy,” he told Sky Sports.

For Leipzig, a Dani Olmo shot off the post in the first half and a late effort from substitute Hwang Hee-chan were the only efforts of note.

Barcelona 1:4 Paris Saint Germain (Camp Nou, Spain)

In what could be the last season we see Lionel Messi in a Barcelona shirt in the Champions League, all of the headlines will belong to Kylian Mbappé.

Despite Messi putting Barcelona ahead from the spot after 27 minutes after Layvin Kurzawa tripped Frenkie de Jong, the result never looked in doubt.

It would only take five minutes before Mbappé had PSG level as he rifled a shot into the top corner after dancing round centre-back Clement Lenglet.

The Frenchman then doubled his and PSG’s goal tally 20 minutes into the second half. A beautiful ball over the top from Leandro Paredes allowed Alessandro Florenzi to square it across the Barcelona box. Gerard Pique could only flick it away from goal and Mbappé pounced with a cool finish.

On-loan Everton forward Moise Kean added the PSG third from an inswinging Paredes free kick. The Italian was left virtually unmarked inside the Barcelona six-yard box, completely free to head it home.

Mbappé grabbed his hat trick with another sublime finish into the top corner, courtesy of substitute Julian Draxler’s driving run, as the 22-year-old finished off a swift counter attacking move.

By far and away the best performance under the short Pochettino era. A captivating display that led French football expert Julien Laurens to comment via Twitter: “[It’s] the best PSG performance in a long time”.

Porto 2:1 Juventus (Estádio de Dragão, Portugal)

If one game could sum up Juventus this season it was this one.

It took Porto only 60 seconds to get their first goal, courtesy of Mehdi Taremi. The Iranian slid in to challenge a weak backpass by Rodrigo Bentacur and slotted the ball past a helpless Wojciech Szczesny.

The only other close chance of the first half fell to Adrien Rabiot, whose quick-thinking overhead kick forced a smart save from Porto keeper Agustin Marchesin.

Porto started the second half in the same way as the first and Moussa Marega doubled the lead 20 seconds after the restart, slotting a left footed effort past Szczesny’s near post.

The introduction of Alvaro Morata gave Juventus a pulse in attack and Bentancur and Danilo both threatened with long range efforts.

Eventually it was Federico Chiesa who was able to change the complexion of the tie, as his stabbed shot into the ground secured a vital away goal for Juventus.

Sevilla 2:3 Borussia Dortmund (Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, Spain)

Perhaps the hardest game to call on gameweek one.

Former Liverpool winger Suso opened the Spanish side’s account after unleashing a strike on the edge of the box past Marwin Hitz.

Haaland setup Mahmoud Dahoud for the lever after 19 minutes as Dahoud’s long-range effort took Sevilla goalkeeper Bono by complete surprise.

The Norwegian would stamp his mark in the tie less than 10 minutes later. Jadon Sancho dinked a return pass into the box to set up the youngster, who slipped the ball under Bono to give Dortmund the lead.

Two minutes before the break Haaland added his second and Dortmund’s third. Marco Reus led a swift counter attack and fed Haaland, who made no mistake when put through on goal.

Although the game by now looked beyond Sevilla, they did pull one goal back from Luuk de Jong and could have had more had their stoppage time penalty appeal not been denied.

Spanish football expert, Guillem Balague summed this crazy game on Twitter talking to CBS Sports:

“This has been two different movies if you like. The first half was the fear of Haaland. In the second half the wise Lopetegui”.