Barcelona, (short of a second leg collapse for both) effectively set up a mouthwatering Champions League Semi Final Clash with bitter rivals Real Madrid following a sublime display against Ukranian side Shaktar Donesk last night.
Final Score Barcelona 5-1 Shaktar Donesk
Andres Iniesta was in inspirational form scoring the first and then setting up Danny Alves for the second, which effectively ended the tie after 34 minutes. Central defender Pique made the score 3-0 early in the second half, and although Rakitskiy briefly gave Shaktar a glimmer of hope, further goals from Keita on the hour mark and a late strike from Xavi secured a comfortable 5-1 win for the Catalonians.
Make no mistake Shaktar are a very good side and this display by Barcelona points to the theory that we might be looking at the finest club side ever esembled. All we can say is bring on Madrid who with the self proclaimed “Special One” Jose Mouriniho in charge might just ensure we get a competative game.
German side Shalke 04 recovered from being a goal down in the 1st minute to pull off an impressive 5-2 win at reigning chamions Inter Milan last night. The italians started the game as strong favourites and even though Matip equalised for the German side on 17 minutes it looked like normal service would be resumed when the Argentinian international Milito restored inters advantage.
However Shalke were level again before the break, and then a 3 goal blast in the second half silenced the Italian contingent of the 75,000 crowd, and left them with one foot in the semi finals.
Inter Milan will now effectively need to win by 4 clear goals to turn this one around, and although they showed great battling qualities against Bayern Munich in the last round it is almost impossible to see them advance from here.
As expected Real Madrid and Chelsea both came through their second leg ties easy enough to complete the line up for the 2011 Champions League Quarter Finals.
Real Madrid had a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Lyon taking them to the quarter finals for the first time since 2004, and keeping alive Jose Mourinho’s dreams of winning the Champions League with a third team. They never looked in danger in the match and despite missing a host of chances early on, once they took the lead in nthe 37th minute the result was never in doubt. This was Real’s first ever win against Lyon having either lost or drawn in their previous 7 meetings.
The attendance was 76,489.
Chelsea had effectively won the tie in Copenhagen where they won 2-0 and despite creating 28 shots at goal they failed to add to their tally with the game ending 0-0. This will be Chelseas 6th appearance in the quarter finals in the last 8 seasons and they are just starting to find their form at the right time after going throug an indifferent spell by their standards.
The attendance was 36,454.
The final eight for 2011 are:
Champions League Holders Inter Milan just got the better of the side they beat in last years final Bayern Munich, advancing on away goals after a thrilling 3-2 away win.
Trailing 1-0 fromthe home leg Inter wasted no time in tying the aggregate scores when Eto’o scored the opener after 3 minutes. However the lead didn’t last and two first half goals from Bayern left the aggregate at 3-1 and gave Inter a mountain to climb in the second half. However the holders are made of stearn stuff and when Wesley Sneijder pulled one back after 63 minutes the tide clearly turned and it was no surprise when Pandev pounced in the 88th minute to level the scores and send the Italians through on away goals.
Final Score Bayern Munich 2-3 Inter Milan aggregate 3-3
Manchester United kept the dream of a second treble alive last night as they beat Marseille 2-1 to progress to the last eight of the 2011 Champions league.
In a game of few chances it was Javier Hernandez who made the difference grabbing two goals, both from close range to put United 2-0 up. The first came after 5 minutes as he instinctively got on the end of Wayne Rooney’s cross and when he added his second on 75 mins it looked like the tie was over. However Wes Brown unluckily put the ball into his own net in the 83rd min and this led to a nervous last few minutes as Marsailles drove forward looking for an equaliser which would have put them throuigh on away goals. Fortunately for the majority of the 73,996 Man utde held out and will now join Spurs as English reperesentatives in the last 8.
Tottenham held AC Milan 0-0 at White Hart Lane to progress 1-0 on aggregate in the Champions League. In a nervy game AC looked the better team and had enough chances in the first half where they laid siege to the Spurs goal to overturn the tie.
Tottenham were a bit better in the second half but again it was Milan who remained the more threatening and the home contingent in the 34,320 crowd were mighty relieved to hear the final whistle.
Spurs will now have to wait until the 18 March to find out who they will face and what ever happens they can look back on a successful first excursion in the competition.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, is the first English manager to take an English side to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and his resume will now read victories over both Milan giants as they beat holders Inter Milan in the group stages.
Shakhtar Donetsk made it into the last 8 of the Champions League for the first time last night with a comfortable 3-0 win over for a 6-2 aggregate scoreline. Shakhtar lookeda little edgy early and it was not until Hubschman put them ahead after 18 minute thatb the seemed to gain their composure.
There after the result was never really in doubt and ironically it was an ex Arsenal player Eduardo who wrapped up the scoring on a night where the need to win your group was clearly evidenced. Shaktar surprisingly won their qualifying group ahead of the Gunners and so avoided Barcelona. On this performance its hard to see them priogress any further, however the Ukranians will give a good account of themselves whoever they end up playing.
Arsenal’s season took another knock last night as they went out of the Champions League 4-3 on aggregate to Barcelona. An Impressive win for Barcelona was somewhat marred however thanks to poor officiating which cumulated with a ludicrous decision to send of Van Persie for kicking the ball away despite the fact it would have been impossible for him to have heard that the Ref had blown his wistle.
To be fair it is unlikely that the decision affected the ultimate outcome as Arsenal failed to muster a single shot at goal while Van Persie was on the pitch and ended the game still without managing a shot and their attacking endevours only resulted in 2 corners.
The scores were level just before half time thanks to a Messi goal in first half stoppage time, and Arsenal did manage to regain the aggregate lead when Busquets put through his own net on 53 minutes. However even though Arsenal were defending resolutely Barcelona were always threatening and once down to 10 men it was inevitable that the Gunners would cave in.
The scores were levelled on aggregate in the 69th minute when Xavi 69 struck, and when Barcelona were awarded a slightly soft penalty Messi made no mistake to sent the Spanish side through.
This is the second season in a row that Arsenal have been knocked out by Barcelona and overall any neutral fan would acknowledge that Barca gave the gunners a footballing lesson.
Final Score Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (aggregate 4-3)
Manchester United dominated play in their Champions League 1st leg match in France, however they may yet rue the fact they couldn’t turn their possession into goals. Now United will have to be wary of conceding an away goal at Old Trafford in the decisive return leg on 15 March.
Clear cut chances were few and far between but both sides could and probably should have had a goal with Darren Fletcher being quite unlucky with his crisp 18 yard drive which Mandanda gathered at the second attempt, while at the other end Brandao was unlucky not to get on the end of a cross come shot by Ayew.
Still 0-0 will brobably suit both sides and the return leg looks likely to be just as tight.
Match Attendance: 58,000
Talk of the ultimate demise of Chelsea’s season will have to go on hold for a few more weeks at least as the reigning Premier League Champions cruised to a comfortable victory at FC Copenhagen in front of a crowd of 28,000. This was Copenhagen’s first ever home defeat in the Champions League, and was no more than Chelsea deserved as they dominated possession.
Although there is no such thing as a formality it would be a major shock if the Danes managed to overturn this deficit and Carlos Ancelotti can rest a little easier at least until their next game when they entertain Manchester United.