Last night saw the second 1st legs of Quarter Final football action in the 2010 UEFA Champions League, and, after some scintillating, nerve-wracking football, we are perhaps no closer to knowing exactly who might progress to the next Semi-Final phase.
UEFA Champions League 2010 – Quarter Final 1st Leg Results:
- Bayern Munich 2 -1 Manchester United
- Lyon 3 – 1 Bordeaux
- Arsenal 2 -2 Barcelona
- Inter Milan 1 – 0 CSKA Moscow
Bayern Munich 2 – 1 Manchester United
Bayern conceded an early goal to the in-form Wayne Rooney, who was in yards of space to smash home an left footed volley from a cross following some uncharacteristically poor defensive work from the home side. Manchester United could, and perhaps should have added to this tally before Bayern, through Ribery, gained good headway in the match, and threatened an equaliser for much of the first and second half. It took a strange turn of events to bring Bayern back into this match, though, as Gary Neville, usually a model of consistency on the football pitch, hand balled just outside the United area.
Ribery looked confident from within 25 yards, but his free-kick lacked power or direction, only finding the bottom corner through a wicked deflection that left Edwin van der Sar totally stranded in the wrong side of his goal – the Dutchman deserved more following some excellent saves under pressure all through this important game.
This goal came with just thirteen minutes remaining, but Bayern had long been looking in the ascendency, so, when they added a last minute goal – two minutes into injury time – through Olic, they perhaps felt a little bit of payback coming their way from the final of 1999.
United will be happy with an away goal, though they will be disappointed not to have gone home with at least a draw after playing well within their comfort zone for much of this match. They, along with England fans, will be more worried about the ankle injury Wayne Rooney picked up late in this game: the striker is out for 3-4 weeks following some damage to his ligaments.
If Bayern can score early at Old Trafford, as United did in this match, they will surely be strong favourites to progress. If United score early, Bayern have proved they have what it takes to come back – the second leg will be a match for the neutral, that is for sure.
Lyon 3 -1 Bordeaux
In the all-French tie of the round, Lyon beat their compatriots 3-1 at home in a match which saw three goals within the first 32 minutes.
Lisandro Lopez opened and closed the scoring with two of the simplest goals he is likely to score in European football: a prod home and a second half penalty. For his first – which took the home side into an early, tenth minute, lead, a failed defensive clearance from Ciani following a free kick was collected by Mathieu Bodmer who hit the ball across the box for the striker to finish.
Marouane Chamakh restored the French table-toppers hope with a headed away goal following excellent work wide on the right from Gourcuff.
15 minutes had not yet flashed up onto the referee’s watch when this equalising effort struck the net, and the remainder of the first half was a joy to watch for any fan of football: flowing football, with chances at either end, though none were converted until the hosts scored again just after the half-hour mark. Pjanic crossed well, but the ball looked to be easily within Benoit Tremoulinas’ range to head away. The defender missed this opportunity, however, and the ball fell to Bastos at the far post, who finished coolly.
But for Lyon’s goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, who had an outstanding second half, Bordeaux would have got a foothold in this match once more, as it was, Lyon were awarded a rather fortuitous penalty for handball, which Lisandro finished with aplomb.
This tie is closer than the scoreline suggests, and Bordeaux looked the better side on Tuesday evening for much of this match. Expect them to pull out all the stops at home faced with Champions League elimination: this will be another match with potential fireworks.
Arsenal 2 -2 Barcelona
Arsenal and Barcelona shared yet another entertaining battle of wills, which saw Thierry Henry returning to the Emirates Stadium, if only as a substitute. In truth, Barcelona could have booked themselves a semi-final place within half an hour, such was their superiority in the opening exchanges of this match.
Another goalkeeper shone, however, as Almunia, in the Arsenal goal produced incredible feats of agility to keep out a Barcelona side who looked every bit like the “best team in the world” tag they seem keen on keeping.
Ibrahamovic, who had looked, at times, lethargic towards the end of his Inter Milan career, was in his best form, and picked up two goals early in the second half to put worry in the minds of an Arsenal faithful which had seen favourites Arshavin and Gallas leave the first half field of play through injury.
The Gunners would stage an impressive and spirited late comeback, however, as the introduction of Walcott lead to the pacey young winger bagging one in the 69th minute, before Fabregas was brought down in the box by Puyol on 85. The Spaniard took his penalty well against his countrymen to level the scores 2-2. Puyol was shown a red card.
Barcelona will have a conundrum in the second leg as they will also be without defender Pique who picked up a booking, though it is Arsenal who will miss their key players, as Fabregas picked up a season ending injury, while Arshavin and Gallas are doubtful.
Arsenal are a dangerous side, however, which is showing great spirit this season, despite seemingly lacking attacking options following the departure of Adebayor to Manchester City last summer. They cannot be discounted, though, if they are to get anything in Camp Nou, Almunia, it is expected, must be in even better form. A tall order. Barcelona should progress here, but football has a habit of surprising us: another great Champions League match in prospect.
Inter Milan 1 – 0 CSKA Moscow
By comparison with the other goal fests on offer this week, Inter Milan once again professionally, coolly and calmly put another opposition to the 1-0 sword in a straightforward home victory. If Jose Mourinho has one skill, it is this: making winning sides that are hard to break down.
So it would prove on Wednesday night, as Inter spurned more chances than they presented to their Russian visitors, who offered little – other than two long-range efforts – to suggest that they might be able to return home with an away goal.
It took the hosts a little while before Diego Milito scored a 65th minute goal that would prove to be solitary come the final whistle, thanks largely to some excellent goalkeeping from Igor Akinfeev and a lack of killer instinct around goal from Inter Milan.
If Inter can continue the form they showed in this match, and score at least one away goal, there is nothing to suggest that CSKA Moscow can produce the three goals they would then require to lift this tie. Inter should progress next week.
Champions League 2010 Quarter Final 2nd Leg Fixtures:
Tuesday 6th April 2010
- Barcelona v Arsenal (K.O. 19:45 BST)
- CSKA Moscow v Inter Milan (K.O. 17:45 BST)
Wednesday 7th April 2010
- Bordeaux v Lyon (K.O. 19:45 BST)
- Man United v Bayern Munich (K.O. 19:45 BST)