Champions’ League Round-Up 13th&14th March

The protracted second round of this season’s Champions’ League drew to a close this week. Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Marseilles all confirmed their places in the joint quarter/semi final draw, joining AC Milan, Barcelona, Apoel Nicosia and Benfica. This is a brief summary of how they achieved this, followed by the draw for the next two rounds.

Bayern Munich re-asserted their regional dominance over Swiss Champions FC Basel by recording a resounding victory in the second-leg at the Allianz Arena. Basel had shocked the Germans in the opening game, managing a 1-0 victory, to set up the possibility of a major upset. It wasn’t to be for the plucky Swiss outfit, who’d ended Manchester United’s involvement in this year’s competition, as the German giants sent them back across the border with their tails firmly clamped between their legs. 7-0 the final score on the night, 7-1 on aggregate; Robben opened and closed the scoring (11 & 81), sandwiching a goal from Thomas Mueller(42) and four finishes in 23 minutes, either side of half-time, from the, red hot, Mario Gomez (44,50,61 & 67).

Marseilles made it into the last eight despite losing to Inter after a hugely dramatic finish at the San Siro. The French side, 1-0 up from the first leg courtesy of a late Andre Ayew header, fell behind in the second half, Diego Milito with the goal for the Italians (75). Inter’s home record has been dire of late though, and they were unable to hold on to their advantage and force extra time. In the 92nd minute a long kick from Mandanda was allowed to bounce, Samuel and Lucio lost Brandao, and the Brazilian substitute thumped in a finish which assured Marseille’s progression. Unbelievably, the action wasn’t finished there,  in the 95th minute Mandanda gave away a penalty and received a second yellow card, ruling him out of the next game. Pazzini scored from the spot, but it made little difference to the end result, Marseille through on away goals.

Napoli threw away a commanding 3-1 first-leg advantage to crash out of the competition, going down 1-4 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. The Azzuri, hampered by the early injury to Maggio, showed naivety and inexperience at times, and will be kicking themselves for failing to convert more of their chances at the San Paolo, and in the early stages at the Bridge; especially Cavani, who missed a golden opportunity to put the Italians one up on the night, failing to tap in to the empty net, with Cech out of position. Goals from Drogba (28), Terry (47) and Lampard (pen 75) gazumped Inler’s 55th minute strike, to take the tie to extra time, and Ivanovic’s close range strike sealed victory for Chelsea (105). A most unlikely comeback, leaving Chelsea as the only British club remaining in European competition this season, at just the quarter final stage.

Finally, Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid moved comfortably into the last eight with a routine 4-1 victory over Russian side CSKA Moscow at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night. With the tie locked at 1-1 after the first-leg, the Spanish super-club asserted their dominance, and were never in any danger in front of their own fans. Goals from Higuain (26), Benzema (70), and a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo (55 & 90+4) wrapped up the win for Real, as they continue in their quest to replace, bitter rivals, Barcelona as the Champions of Europe. Tosic’s  goal thirteen minutes from time was pretty, but merely a souvenir for the Russian side to take with them on the long journey home.

 Champions’ League Quarter and Semi Final Draw

Apoel Nicosia vs Real Madrid (qf)

Marseilles vs Bayern Munich  (qf)

Benfica vs Chelsea  (qf)

AC Milan vs Barcelona  (qf)

Marseilles/Bayern Munich vs Apoel Nicosia/Real Madrid

Benfica/Chelsea vs AC Milan/ Barcelona

Quarter-finals to be played on 27/28th March and 3RD/4TH April. Semi-finals to be played 17/18th and 24/25th April.

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