The remaining four first-leg Round-16 games were played out on February 23 & 24. Like Real Madrid last week, FC Barcelona also collected two goals in an away game on Tuesday against Arsenal in London. When Arsenal go to Camp Nou next week, they have to first wipe out the 0-2 deficit against Spanish League’s best club and score one more goal for a chance of entering the quarterfinals. That, by no means, is going to be easy against the trio of Messi Suarez and Neymar, who have acquired a collective tag of MSN. In the other match on February 23, last year’s runner-up Juventus failed to capitalize on home advantage as Bayern munich held them to a 2-2 draw. On Wednesday, PSV Eindhoven held the strong Atletico Madrid to a goalless draw at home, despite PSV’s Gaston Pereiro having been shown a red card in 67th minute. In the last Round-16 first-leg match, Manchester City scored a creditable 3-1 away victory over Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv.
The first leg matches in the UEFA champions league have come to the conclusion after two days’ action on February 23 & 24, 2016. On Tuesday, FC Barcelona played against Arsenal in London, where a brilliant Lionel Messi simply stood out. Besides Messi, two other members of the now famous MSN trio; weren’t lacking in performance either. However, to Arsenal’s credit, they kept the three-some rather quiet for nearly three quarters of the tie. Not only that, Arsenal got on top midway in the match but their sudden spurt didn’t last long. For the delight of the home fans, Messi, Suarez and Neymar were kept under check for a while. In the 71st minute, the trio showed their color, when Suarez began a move from left and fed a surging Neymar. The Brazilian squared the ball to the perfectly positioned Messi, who committed no mistake. In a flash, Arsenal were overcome by the most dangerous trio in world football today. Another joint move by the triumvirate in 83rd minute resulted in Suarez hitting the post but at that instant Messi was wrongly brought down by Arsenal substitute Mathieu Flamini, Messi scored from the penalty to record his 29th goal of the season that brought the 2-0 victory against the home team.
In the second match on February 23 at the Juventus stadium, the home side and last year’s runner-up had to fight hard against visiting Bayern Munich. Thomas Muller scored in the 43rd minute and Arjen Robben made it 2-0 for Bayern in the 55th. From that point, it looked like Bayern’s game but Juventus retaliated in the 63rd minute, when Mario Mandzukic fed a nice ball to Paulo Dybala, who gave hope to his side by reducing the deficit to 2-1. In the 76th minute, Juve found the equalizer, when Morata headed a ball in the direction of Stefano Sturaro. The 22-year old Juventus midfielder made no error in scoring his 4th goal for Juventus and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
On February 24, PSV Eindhoven hosted Atletico Madrid. The Spanish club was the favorite but PSV fought hard all the way. It was the first knock-out appearance for PSV in UCL after nearly ten years but they never got bogged down by Atletico’s huge reputation. Atletico made numerous attempts on PSV goal but fell short of scoring. PSV also launched a few attacks in the first half but couldn’t pierce the strong Atletico defense. By and large the contest remained even until PSV forward Gaston Pereiro was red-carded in 67th minute. In 68th minute, PSV came under pressure, when Gabi hammered it hot but PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet was equal to the task. Playing with 10 men for over 25 minutes, PSV thwarted all promising attempts from Atleti and forced a goalless draw. The semifinal berth will depend on the result in the return-leg game in Madrid next week.
The last round-16 first-leg game of the week between home side Dynamo Kyiv and Manchester City was played in falling snow at Kyiv. The cold, however, didn’t affect Manchester as they took the vital 1-0 lead in 15th minute, when an unmarked Sergio Aguero scored from a corner by Silva that first fell to Toure and came to the Argentinian. City doubled the lead in 40th minute through David Silva, when Aguero’s long pass found Raheem Sterling. All Silva needed to do was to tap the ball home, when Sterling sent him a lovely cross. After halftime, the game opened up in 59th minute, when Dynamo’s Buyalskiy made it 2-1 by scoring from a deflected ball that came to him after Nicolas Otamendi headed. It almost became 2-2, when Buyalskiy headed but City goalkeeper Joe Hart denied Dyanamo. At the stroke of final hooter, City made it 3-1, when Toure scored from a brilliant left-footed curler after an enterprising 1-2 with Fernandinho. The result is harsh for Dynamo, who travel to Manchester for the second leg game next week.
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