A quick recap of the action in the first round of Champions League quarter finals.
PSG v Manchester City – An Expensive Comedy of Errors.
David Luiz’s irresponsible yellow card merely 12 seconds into the tie not only ruled the Brazilian out of the return leg, but also epitomised the underlying absurdity in last night’s Champions League ‘El Cashico’. After the referee refused to award PSG a stonewall penalty after a foul on Matuidi in the box, a spot kick was awarded for a much less obvious foul on David Luiz.
Within a week of asserting the fact that he is not like us, and reminding us of his name while drinking some vitamin water, Zlatan Ibrahimovic surprised us all by taking an unconvincing penalty which Joe Hart parried away rather easily (although credit must be given for guessing the right way).
A poor Matuidi pass in the midfield was seized upon by Fernando, which led to a clinical finish by Kevin De Bruyne, who does not look like a player who has been sidelined by injury for several months. However, within seconds, Fernando cancelled out his good pressure by taking far too long on a pass from Joe Hart, his panicked pass found Ibrahimovic’s foot, and the ball rolled into an empty net for the equaliser.
In what was by far the surprise package of the first round of Champions League quarter finals, Wolfsburg came out as comfortable winners of the home leg against ‘la décima’winning Real Madrid.
It would be fair to say that Real Madrid were on the wrong end of several decisions in the early stages of the game. Ronaldo slotted the ball in but was called offside in a situation where the benefit of the doubt should arguably be given to the attacker. However, replays do confirm that Ronaldo’s upper body was indeed offside. The debatable officiating decisions were confounded when Schürrle kicked Casemiro, who didn’t do much to impede the German winger, and Rodríguez stepped up to give his team the lead from the spot.
Less than 10 minutes later, good Wolfsburg build up play from Draxler seemed to stretch the Madrid defence, opening up Marcello’s left flank, and the drilled cross from Henrique met Arnold who doubled the German club’s lead.
The odds of Fernando Torres scoring were rather high (@ 7/2) given how much the striker enjoys scoring against the Catalan team, and he scored his first Champions League goal in two years midway through the first half, with a nice finish through the legs of ter Stegen. For a while, Atlético had Barcelona under control, and seemed to have taken pointers from their Madrid rivals’ Nou Camp weekend victory. That was until Torres decided to make a needless challenge in the centre circle, and was subsequently dismissed having been booked earlier on.
After being made to play Juventus in the first knockout round, one might have thought that playing Benfica in the quarters would prove to be an easier fixture for the Bavarians. However, unlike the Bayern Munich side we had grown used to seeing tear teams apart in comparable fixtures, Pep’s side seemed to show complacency after taking the lead in the first couple of minutes from a cool Arturo Vidal finish.