The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties went underway yesterday as Man City went head to head with Sporting, and PSG welcomed Real Madrid to Paris. What a night! The Champions League is back after a 3-month break. And it was like it never left.
Man City vs Sporting
When the round of 16 draws were made, I said City couldn’t have asked for an easier tie. I was proven right yesterday. City, in blistering form right now, went 4-0 up in the first half. Sporting, the home side, were outmatched and outclassed in every department. Riyad Mahrez opened the scoring in the 7th minute. VAR awarding the goal after a review. Bernardo Silva scored either side of a Phil Foden strike. By the time Raheem Sterling scored in the 58th minute, the entire tie was done and dusted. City sent a message to the rest of Europe. This was no beating, it was a destruction. It was clear. It was loud. They are coming. And they are taking no prisoners.
PSG vs Real Madrid
It was the Mbappe show. Paired against Real Madrid, after being initially paired against United, this tie was written in the stars. So many sub texts. Firstly, Angel Di Maria was facing Madrid again. Secondly, Real’s former captain, Sergio Ramos was coming home. Though sadly, he missed out to injury. Thirdly, Messi was facing Madrid. And though it was the first he wasn’t in Barcelona colours against them, the plot was written for him to be their nemesis once again. Lastly, Mbappe, possibly transferring to Madrid, had an opportunity to give them a first-hand experience of what he brought to the table. While all the other subtexts underwhelmed, with Messi even missing a second half penalty won by Mbappe, it was the young star who shone the brightest. And so it was that his brilliant, solo 94th minute goal finally settled the first leg tie. PSG 1, Madrid 0.
Ronaldo Ends Goal Drought
United took on Brighton on Tuesday night. No, it wasn’t a Champion’s League match. The match had been rescheduled from December following a Covid19 outbreak in the United camp. United are a side in distress, even with Ralf Rangnick covering till end of season. By the end of the first half, they didn’t seem like doing better than the draws they had gotten from their last 3 games. Until Ronaldo did his thing in the second half. Skipping past 3 Brighton players, he pummelled home from the edge of the area to score his first goal of 2022. His compatriot, Bruno Fernandes made it 2 seconds to the end of the match. And with that, United go into the Top four again, although they will face stiff opposition from clubs like Arsenal who have 3 games in hand.
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