Sports Gazette

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

UCL Review: opera seria, heroic Haaland, banishing la remontada & surgical Liverpool

Posted on 11 March 2021 by Jeremy Addley

Co written by Amine Sennoun

Juventus 3:2 Porto AET (Allianz Stadium, Italy)

4:4 on aggregate. Porto go through on away goals after extra time.

Last night surely represented the lowest point for Juventus this season as they crashed out in spectacular fashion in Turin.

The Bianconeri made a fast start and almost levelled the aggregate score after 120 seconds when Alvaro Morata headed directly at Agustin Marchesin from point blank range. However, the Dragons rallied and Sergio Oliveira put them ahead after calmly slotting home a penalty in the 19th minute.

The absence of Paulo Dybala was painfully obvious as Juventus were frustrated in the first half.

The tie would flip on its head only eight minutes into the second half as Federico Chiesa managed to squeeze in a tight angle shot into the top right corner dragging Juventus back into the tie.

This was followed by two yellow cards for Mehdi Taremi in the space of two minutes, which led to a torrent of Juventus attacks.

 Chiesa came up again to haunt Porto with his third goal of the tie, heading in a Cuadrado cross.

 Juventus thought they had secured their place in the last eight with a Morata goal in added time, only for VAR to rule that the Spaniard was offside.

Even so, Cuadrado had the chance to snatch the tie in the dying embers, but his rifled shot in the box deep into added time rattled the Porto crossbar.

With the tie level, extra-time brought along with it more drama as Oliveira secured his brace with a drilled in a low free kick to put Porto ahead on aggregate and secure the vital second away goal.

Although Juventus replied one minute later, through an Adrien Rabiot header from a corner, they could not find the crucial fourth goal as a resolute Porto held out. 

Borussia Dortmund 2:2 Sevilla (Signal Iduna Park, Germany)

Dortmund head through 5:4 on aggregate.

Erling Haaland became the quickest player to score 20 Champions League goals as his double dumped Sevilla out of Europe.

The visitors started off sharper and dominated the first half hour, with a Lucas Ocampos effort from outside the box forcing a smart save from Marwin Hitz.

Suso stepped up next only to fire just wide from close range.

This profligacy was punished by Dortmund, who grabbed the opener completely against the run of play in the 35th minute. Marco Reus ran behind the defence and pulled the ball back for Haaland to score into an empty net.

Haaland got his second of the game through a somewhat bizarre penalty nine minutes into the second half.

After VAR awarded Dortmund a spot kick, Sevilla shot stopper Yassine Bounou saved the first penalty and proceeded to unwisely taunt Haaland for the miss, only for VAR to interject again to advise that Bounou was off his line and that it would have to be retaken.

Haaland wouldn’t miss at the second time of asking and returned the favour by taunting Bounou.

Youssef En-Nesyri pulled one back for Sevilla with a superb penalty of his own, which he struck down the middle with just over 20 minutes remaining.

The visitors battled on and were rewarded with another goal by En-Nesyri, this time a header at the end of added time.  Sadly however, it was too little too late for Los Palanganas.

 

Paris Saint-Germain 1:1 Barcelona (Le Parc des Princes, France)

PSG advance 5:2 on aggreagte.

The ghosts of ‘La Remontada’ appeared to linger around Paris in the lead up to the return leg and Barcelona did their best to prevent PSG becoming the ghostbusters.

The early exchanges were dominated by an inspired Barca and Ousmane Dembele came close with a strike down the throat of Keylor Navas.

Sergino Dest then forced Navas to palm a venomous effort onto the woodwork after a flowing attacking move.

Kylian Mbappe then grabbed the opener against the run of play. A controversial VAR review decided Clement Lenglet had impeded Mauro Icardi in the area, with Mbappe smashing a right-footed effort into the corner.

Lionel Messi would reply with an incredible 25-yard effort into Navas’s top right-hand corner.

Just before halftime, Messi was given a golden opportunity to put Barca ahead from the spot after Layvin Kurzawa clipped Antoine Griezmann in the area. However, Navas was equal to Messi’s effort, denying the Argentine with a low save down to his right.

The pattern of the second half followed the first. A bombard of Barcelona attacks led to repeated chances for Dembele and Griezmann that both failed to convert.

For Barcelona it was a spirited performance but the damage was done in the first leg.

Liverpool 2:0 RB Leipzig (Puskás Aréna, Hungary)

Liverpool progress through 4:0 on aggregate.

Despite Liverpool’s relatively comfortable victory in the first leg, Dani Olmo almost grabbed the first chance of the game for the German side, forcing an outstanding reflex save from Alisson in the early exchanges.

Liverpool replied quickly as Diogo Jota drew a fine save from Peter Gulacsi. A whipped-in corner allowed a free Jota to redirect the ball with a powerful header, only to be denied by the quick reflexes of the Hungarian.

The Reds would generate a golden chance through a karate-like kick from Thiagob Alcântara up the pitch that played Mohamed Salah through one on one with Gulacsi, only to have his effort saved at point blank range, with Sadio Mane unable to capitalise on the rebound.

Emil Forsberg put Liverpool hearts in mouths after a deflection broke straight into the Swede’s path, only for him to drag it narrowly wide.

Just before halftime, Jota missed an almost empty net. Salah caused chaos under the high ball for Upamecano that led the Frenchman to gift Jota the chance, only for him to fire it into the side netting.

Liverpool finally got their breakthrough goal courtesy of their top scorer. A through ball to Jota broke open the defence allowing him to slide in Salah, who performed his trademark cut inside to slot it back into the corner.

With the game wrapped up, Mane then added the icing on the cake. The forward finished off a free-flowing attacking move by tapping home a Divock Origi cross.