After Arsenal on Tuesday, it was the turn of Manchester City to become the second English side to face elimination from this year’s Champions League. On Wednesday March 12, 2014, City had an away game in the bastions of FCB at Camp Nou, where 86,000 Barca fans were vociferous in their support for their heroes. Barca won 2-1 in the return leg match to complete a 4-1 aggregate victory over Manchester City and recorded their seventh straight quarterfinal entry in the UEFA Champions League. FC Barcelona are also four-time winners of the League, though they have not had a great season this year. In the Spanish League, they have slipped to the third place behind Real Madrid and Atletico. In the other round-of-16 home game on Thursday, Paris Saint Germain defeated Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen 2-1. Since PSG had the first leg lead of 4-0, they became the fourth team to enter the last 8 of this season’s Champions League with an aggregate score of 6-1.
In the first match, the pressure was really on City since they took the field with a 0-2 deficit from the first leg played at home. But the City players didn’t want to give up, while they still had a chance. Until the half-time, no side could score, though attacks were mounted from either side on each other. Lionel Messi played as provider in the first half and there was a real opportunity one minute before the breather. The Camp Nou crowd saw flashes of brilliance from their super star, when he first sent a beautiful pass to Xavi Hernández. But Hernández’s volley was superbly stopped by Manchester City’s brilliant goalkeeper Joe Hart. One minute before the half time, Messi provided another smart pass to Neymar, who went charging in and even drew out Hart but his shot was headed away by Fernandinho, who had the sense to cover for Hart. When the teams switched ends after the interval, the tempo of the game changed. Messi had a chance to launch a counter-attack but his delicate slide from the side-foot struck the far post. At this point even City had a chance to make a counter attack, which ended with a superb header from City’s Edin Dzeko, directed at the top corner. But this time, Barca goalkeeper Valdes made a very fine save. In the 67th minute, a pass sent by Cesc Fàbregas struck the foot of Joleon Lescott and got deflected to where Messi was present. Messi is not the one to miss scoring when a straight forward opportunity presents itself. Barca went 1-0 up and Messi completed his eighth goal of this season’s Champions League. In the 78th minute, Pablo Zabaleta was red-carded for arguing about a penalty award to City as Gerard Pique apparently fouled Edin Dzeko inside the box. Even though City was down to 10 men, captain Vincent Kompany produced an equalizer in the 89th minute. Video replays later showed that Kompany was clearly off-side. When the match went into a few minutes of the stoppage time, Dani Alves added another goal to the one he had scored in the first leg match and Barcelona entered the quarterfinals.
In the French capital’s Parc des Princes stadium, Paris St. Germain played their home leg return match against the German club Bayern Leverkusen on March 12, 2014. Just when home supporters thought of a cake-walk into the quarters for PSG, Leverkusen went ahead in the 6th minute. It was class goal produced by efforts from captain Simon Rolfes, Castro and Donati. Rolfes poked a ball from left to the edge of the box for Castro, who sent it to Donati on the right. Donati swung a great cross to Sidney Sam, who headed it in while going down on his knees in a slide. In the 13th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked like scoring but his shot was pushed out by Leno and a fruitful corner accrued. The floater was headed in by Marquinhos, before the Leverkusen keeper could realize what happened. In the 28th minute, Leverkusen won a penalty, when Jallet pulled Eren Derdiyok’s jersey to prevent him from running into the penalty area. Jallet was shown a yellow card and Simon Rolfes put the ball to take the spot kick. But PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu affected a great save. The scores were level at half time. In the 53rd minute, Lucas Digne ran down on the left flank and sent a pass near the feet of Ezequiel Lavezzi, who drove home without making any mistake. PSG won the match 2-1 and with an impressive aggregate of 6-1 entered the quarterfinals.
On Tuesday March 18, Chelsea FC meets Galatasaray and Real Madrid plays FC Schalke 04 and the results will decide two more teams for the quarterfinal. The line-up will be completed on Wednesday March 19, when Olympiacos FC takes on Manchester United at Old Trafford and Borussia Dortmund plays with the Russian club FC Zenit.
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