UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 First Leg Wrap-up
The first leg of two in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 came to an end this week. After all the excitement the first week brought, the second week closed out the first leg in a rather muted fashion. Here’s a quick rundown of how the first leg turned out.
Milan 0-1 Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspurs traveled to the San Siro in Milan to kick off the round of 16 with a bang last week. Peter Crouch put up the lone goal in the 80th minute after Aaron Lennon made a nice run out of the backfield on a counterattack. The real drama, however, came when Milan captain Gennaro Gattuso attacked Tottenham coach Joe Jordan after receiving his third yellow card of the tournament. Gattuso grabbed Jordan by the throat and slapped him in the face. Gattuso’s agent claims Gattuso was goaded by derogatory comments from Jordan, a former Milan striker. Jordan denies these allegations. Gattuso will not be able to play in the return leg against Tottenham because of the yellow cards, and he has also been issued a four match ban by UEFA. Milan travel to White Hart Lane to play the second leg of their matchup with Tottenham on March 9.
Valencia 1-1 Schalke
Valencia, once again doomed to third place in La Liga behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, have something to prove in the Champions League. They came out firing on all cylinders when FC Shalke went to Valencia for the first leg of their matchup. Soldado opened up scoring for Valencia in the 17th minute, but legendary Spanish international Raul Gonzalez scored for Schalke in the 64th minute. Valenica will travel to Schalke for the second leg of their battle on March 9.
Roma 2-3 Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar went down 1-0 early thanks to an own goal from Razvan Rat, but fought their way back, going up 3-1 when Roma defender John Arne Riise inexplicably fell on his face, setting up a relatively easy Luiz Adriano goal. Jeremy Menez would eventually score another goal for Roma, but despite being absolutely stunning, it wasn’t enough to help the home side even the scoring. Roma will travel to Shakhtar for the second leg on March 8.
Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona
Much ado has been made about Arsenal’s win over Barcelona. Did Barcelona let arrogance get the better of them? Did they underestimate their opponents? Did Messi’s pregame… uhh… injury affect his performance? Both sides missed plenty of chances, but Barcelona never played with a sense of urgency after their first goal, or even when they were even 1-1. Arsenal will head to the Camp Nou in Barcelona for the second leg of their matchup.
Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea
Nicholas Anelka put up two classy goals for Chelsea’s solid win over FC Copenhagen. Chelsea is the heavy favorite in this matchup, and this win came as no surprise for most. Chelsea may be on a run of lackluster form in the Premier League, but their depth of talent kept them strong against the best team in the Danish Superliga.
Lyon 1-1 Real Madrid
Real Madrid visited Lyon to renew a five year long Champions League rivalry that Real Madrid has never won. Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid their only goal against the team he had been a part of since 1996 before moving to the Spanish club in 2009. Bafetimbi Gomis brought Lyon level late in the game and Real Madrid would play Lyon a seventh time without a win. Lyon head to Madrid for the return leg of this rivalry on March 16.
Marseille 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United traveled to Marseille for the most unentertaining game of the first leg. Manchester United made the trip without playmaking stars Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand, and in a preposterous move, United coach Sir Alex Ferguson chose not to start pass master Paul Scholes, opting to introduce him until the 73rd minute. The result was 90 minutes of the ball pinging around in the middle of the field and a few decent crosses that no one could take advantage of. The two teams take up the second leg at Old Trafford where the 12th man may be the deciding factor on March 15.
Inter Milan 0-1 Bayern Munich
There are few things more thrilling in soccer than late goals, and Mario Gomez gave Bayern just that on the final day of the first leg. The two sides spent much of the match in a fierce mid-field, but Bayern slipped ahead in the 90th minute when Julio Cesar couldn’t quite contain Arjen Robben’s spectacular effort and Mario Gomez swooped in to clean up shop. Inter will travel to Munich for the return leg on March 15.
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