Except first-time quarter finalists Wolfsburg, no other team in UEFA Champions League’s first-leg QF could create a victory margin of more than one goal against their rivals. Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona had one-goal margin home wins, while Paris Saint-Germain drew 2-2 with Manchester City. Going into second-leg games next week, the slender margins afford better chances for first-leg winners but they cannot rule out reversals against them in Lisbon, Madrid and Manchester. Madrid will have one more second-leg match, where Real Madrid hosts QF debutant Wolfsburg. With a 0-2 first-leg deficit, Real will be under pressure even with home advantage.
Real Madrid didn’t come to Germany to lose 0-2 against Wolfsburg, who probably wanted more than their tag as debutant UEFA Champions League quarter finalists. After kick-off on Wednesday, Ronaldo found the net in second minute but was ruled offside. In 4th minute, Gareth Bale was dangerously stopped and Real cried for a penalty but the play went on. Karim Benzema also came close to scoring in 14th minute. However, as 15 minutes passed, Wolfsburg took control. Madrid yielded an unnecessary penalty in 18th minute and Ricardo Rodriguez made no mistake. The second goal for Wolfsburg came from poor defending by Madrid. Maxmilion Arnold was running from deep and met Bruno Henrique’s cross from 5 yards even as Marcelo and Ramos were neutralized. After this 24th minute goal from Wolfsburg, no more goals could be added in the match. Despite their best efforts, Real Madrid failed to match the rejuvenated Wolfsburg. Going into Santiago Bernabeu with 0-2 deficit next week, Real Madrid may not find it easy.
In another match on Wednesday, PSG failed to utilize the home advantage in a thrilling encounter with Manchester City. The match ended in a 2-2 draw and the major talking point was a rueful 14th minute penalty miss by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after David Luiz had been brought down by Bacary Sagna. But Ibra couldn’t convert and it was City, who took the lead in 38th minute. Blaise Matuidi got the ball in midfield from Fernando and passed it to Fernandinho. The Brazilian midfielder found Kevin De Bruyne in great position and the Belgian decisively hammered past PSG goalkeeper Trapp. However, City’s 1-0 lead didn’t last long as Ibra atoned for his penalty miss to equalize in the 41st minute. After Fernando foolishly lost the ball, the Swede’s 18-yard stunner gave City goalkeeper Hart no chance at all. PSG kept up the pressure on City and shot into a 2-1 lead in 59th minute, when Cavani headed a swinging corner by Di Maria. Hart made a reflex save but the ball fell in the path of Adrien Rabiot, who pumped the ball in from five yards. But veteran Brazilian Fernandinho spoiled the PSG party in 72nd minute riding on Paris’ defensive lapse. The 2-2 draw has made the second-leg QF at Manchester a decisive game.
On April 5, Luis Suarez scored twice in second-half for FC Barcelona against Atletico Madrid after the hosts were put back by a first-half goal from Fernando Torres. The famed trio of Messi , Suarez and Neymar played wretchedly and missed everything in first half that truly belonged to Atleti. Early on, Messi twice shot feebly but by 15th minute, Atleti wrested control and shot into the lead in 25th minute. It was an easy-looking goal as Koke sent a ball to a running Fernando Torres and with Barca’s defenses going haywire, Torres shot low and hard between ter Stegen’s legs. Despite Torres and a few other Atletico player collecting yellow-cards, the visitors didn’t stop attacking the Barca goal. Torres left after earning his second yellow card in 35th minute and Atleti were reduced to 10 men. This allowed Barcelona better maneuvering but the equalizer came only in the 63rd minute, when an alert Suarez deflected Jordi Alba’s volley after Alba shot wide on Dani Alves’ cross. 11 minutes later, Suarez scored again, when Messi sent the ball to him. The Uruguayan didn’t immediately score; he sent the ball to Dani Alves on the right and Alves scooped it back to Suarez, who spun around to find the net with a superb header. Even with the 2-1 lead, Barcelona may not find it easy against Atleti at Madrid next week.
In another first-leg QF at Munich on Tuesday, Bayern Munich produced a second-minute 1-0 lead against Benefica, when Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal headed a super long ball from Juan Bernat. Vidal had many other chances but the regulation time remained a period of missed opportunities for both teams. Besides, Benfica defenders did a great job of preventing further deficit against them by checking Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski, who was unlucky to miss a straightforward open goal chance in 89th minute and the match ended 1-0 in Bayern’s favor. In Lisbon next week, the two teams will play the return-leg game and Bayern should not discount surprise elements coming from Benefica on their home turf.
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