Sports Gazette

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

Pep’s perfection, magnificent Madrid, Bavarian brilliance, cunning Chelsea

Posted on 18 March 2021 by Jeremy Addley

Co-written by Amine Sennoun

Manchester City 2:0 Borussia Monchengladbach (Puskas Arena, Hungary)

City qualify 4:0 on aggregate

Manchester City took their earlier chances to equal their first leg result and advance in the competition.

Breel Embolo could’ve halved the Bundesliga side’s deficit early on as his deflected shot was met with a fingertip save from Ederson.

However, goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan inside the 20 minute mark were enough to see off a dangerous Monchengladbach side who were unlucky not to get on the score sheet.

An absolute firecracker from De Bruyne outside of the box into the top left hand corner brought about a huge smile from boss Pep Guardiola.

This was immediately followed by a threatening run from Phil Foden, who threaded the ball neatly to Gundogan for the Germany midfielder to calmly slot in his 15th goal of the season.

The German side though responded by continuously pounding away at City’s defence and were almost rewarded near the end of the half with Embolo again being inches away from a goal.

Riyad Mahrez could’ve had a hattrick in the second half with the number of times he came close to scoring. However, the gifted Algerian could only look on in frustration after seeing his efforts go wide and forcing Yann Sommer into a multitude of saves.

Real Madrid 3:1 Atalanta (Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Spain)

Madrid advance 4:1 on aggregate

Real Madrid cruised to a comfortable win at home to book their place in the quarter-finals.

Los Blancos were able to thoroughly dominate a toothless Atalanta side who saw little to no sight of Madrid’s goal.

Apart from some clever link up play between Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr which should have resulted in a goal, the majority of the opening period proved uneventful, with Atalanta proving stubborn to break down at the back.

Unlike the first leg, however, Madrid did not wait until the dying embers of the game to grab a goal.

With 10 minutes of the first-half to go, Karim Benzema managed to slot in his 70th UCL goal after Luka Modric pounced on an unforced error made by goalkeeper Marco Sportiello and weaved the ball to Benzema who did the rest.

The introduction of Duvan Zapata at half time did give the Italians much-needed potency up front, setting up multiple chances and forcing Thibaut Courtois into a good save.

Vinicius Jr again wasted a great opportunity, poking the ball just wide of the post after an amazing solo run. 

The match ceased to be a contest on the hour mark when Madrid were awarded a penalty, which captain Sergio Ramos coolly converted.

Luis Muriel stunned the home side with under 10 minutes to go with a spectacular freekick, raising one or two eyebrows as to whether they could mount a comeback.

However, these faint hopes were quickly vanquished when substitute Marco Asensio responded with a well taken goal minutes later.

 

Chelsea 2:0 Atletico Madrid (Stamford Bridge, England)

Chelsea advance to the last eight 3:0 on aggregate

The Tuchel train rolled into Stamford Bridge looking to make it 13 games unbeaten in all competitions since the German arrived.

It was a slow burner to start but the first significant flashpoint arrived when Cesar Azpilicueta brought Yannick Carrasco down in the Chelsea penalty area when the winger was bearing down on the Chelsea goal.

Daniele Orsato deemed the Chelsea captain didn’t impede the Belgian in the box and waved play to continue. Had the penalty been awarded it would almost certainly have been a red for the Spaniard.

The decision left Atletico manager Diego Simeone apoplectic on the sidelines and his fury only intensified when Timo Werner slid Hakim Ziyech through to grab the opener.

Kai Havertz was denied by Jan Oblak just five minutes from the interval as a pinpoint pass into the German in the box forced a fine save from the Atletico number one.

Just after the break it was Werner’s turn to test Oblak. After finding space in the box, the German struck a low driven effort into the bottom left corner, only to be denied by a fabulous save.

Oblak would once again have to produce a sensational save to deny Ziyech his and Chelsea’s second by thwarting the Moroccan’s top left corner bound effort.

With only eight minutes remaining Orsato was in the centre of yet more controversy. A slight elbow by Stefan Savic into Antonio Rudiger’s chest in the Chelsea penalty area was deemed serious enough by that the Montenegro international received a straight red card.

Emerson put the icing on the cake after finishing off a swift counter attacking move courtesy of Christian Pulisic. A squared ball across the Atletico box allowed the Brazilian to guide a low driven effort into the bottom corner, ensuring Chelsea progressed to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.

Bayern Munich 2:1 Lazio (Allianz Arena, Germany)

The defending champions head through 6:2 on aggregate

For the reigning European champions the task was clear, don’t let Lazio back into the tie in the first half.

All hopes of a Lazio comeback would be dashed courtesy of a Robert Lewandowski penalty just after the half hour mark. Vedat Muriqi was judged to have fouled Leon Goretska in the area by holding onto the German as he tried to attack the incoming cross. The Polish hitman made no mistake and grabbed his 5th UCL goal of the campaign.

With the tie seemingly gone, the game progressed into cruise control.

It wouldn’t be until the 65th minute that another clear chance arrived. Lewandowski unleashed a low driven thunderbolt that only the woodwork prevented from nestling into the bottom corner.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting grabbed Bayern’s second after replacing the Polish international. A lovely through ball from David Alaba split the Lazio defence allowing the Cameroonian native to tuck home his second goal in this year’s competition.

With eight minutes remaining Marco Parolo grabbed a consolation goal for the Italians after heading home an in-swinging Andreas Pereira free kick.