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.
Its advantage Manchester United at the half way stage in what looks like being the only competitive Quarter Final in the 2011 Champions League as the other 3 ties look as good as over after the nfirst games.
In an entertaining and closely contested match at Stamford Bridge Manchester United scored the games only goal following a move fit to grace any game of this standard. The impressive Michael Carrick who passed the ball well all night started the move with a sweeping cross which veretan Ryan Giggs collected with a sublime 1st touch before pulling the ball back for Wayne Rooney who calmly side footed the ball into the net with the help of the goal post. United were good value for their lead going into the half, although Torres was a tad unlucky not to level things when hist deftly placed shot came back off the post.
The second half saw a bit more fight from Chelsea, and they will count themselves unlucky to to have had at least one penalty with the one in the final minute where Patrice Evra’s foul Ramires was so blatant that the ref was probably the only person in the stadium who missed it.
A 1-0 lead is nice, however this game is far from over and if Chelsea play like they did in the second half then it would be no surprise to see them overturn this deficit.
After losing for the first time at home in nine years on Saturday, Jose Mourinho cannot afford anything but a win against Tottenham in the forthcoming Champions League fixture. Why? Because he is in the toughest job in football with Real Madrid having had an astonishing 17 different managers since the Champions League began in 1992. The most likely result in our opinion – Tottenham will lose and possibly quite heavily.
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.
Tottenham have probably exceeded their fans wildest pre-season expectations with their excellent debut Champions League season, however after last nights performance it looks like the end of the road for the plucky Londoners.
Follwoing great wins over both Inter & AC Milan in the route to the quarter finals, expectations were possibly a bit high, and after Peter Crouch received his marching orders early in the game the result was never in doubt.
Tottenham didn’t have a whole lot of luck with Jermaine Jenas having to be called in at the last minute after Aaron Lennon had to pull out, however they were 1-0 down before Crouch was sent off and had looked a little overawed by the occasion.
Real Mardid despite all their pressure took until the 57th minute to add a second when Adebayor scored again and then Di Maria (72nd) and Ronaldo (87th) effectively killed off any hopes Spurs had of a White Hart Lane comeback.
Its hard to judge just how good or otherwise Real Mardid are n this showing, however it looks like Jose Mourinho could be on his way to yet another Champions League Final.
The Champions League Semi Final draw has paired Britains best hopes Chelsea & Manchester United guaranteeing an English presence in the last 4, but probably dashing any hope of an al English final. The final 8 are comprised of 3 English Clubs, 2 Spanish, and one each from Italy, Germany and the Ukraine.
Looking at the ties objectively we expect the final four to comnprise Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid & Chelsea, although with teams of this quality anything can happen and some exciting football looks instore.
Inter Milan v Schalke 04
Real Madrid v Tottenham
Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk
Chelsea v Man Utd
It was not a good night for the remaining British clubs in the Europa League as all three crashed out with only a single goal between them.
Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw at Anfield against Portugueseside Braga, who having done well in their Champions League debut are starting to look like contenders in what is the consolation prize for the Champins League group stage nearly made its. Liverpool to be fair had the bulk of the possession but lacked the flair and creativity needed to break down the Braga defense, and they were lucky not to be caught out by the Portuguese sides break away attacks.
Big spending Manchester City were always going to be up against it with a 2 goal deficit against Dynamo Kiev, and once they went down to 10 men the tie was all but over. They did manage to salvage a little pride thanks to Kolarov’s 39th minute winner but 2-1 was the aggregate score and its the Ukranians who move on to the Quarter Finals. Manchester City fans will now have to hope they can beat their rivals United in the FACup semi final if they are to have a chance of ending their silverware drought.
Scotlands remaining representative Glasgow Rangers had a great chance of qualifying having held the dutch side 0-0 in their away leg, however they played a strangely cautious game and paid the price when Lens scored for PSV after 13 minutes. The stats which show Rangers only had 1 shot at goal pretty much sums up a disapointing game and the risk of Scottland losing a European place due to their performance ranking is starting to loom large.
So there will be no British Interest in the Europa League quarter finals, which compares starkly with the 3 representatives in the same stage of the Champions League.
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.