The second batch of the first leg of the round of 16 matches was conducted this week, with 4 ties being played. And a lot of action took place in those four ties. So here is a recap of everything that went down in the UEFA Champions League Knockout stage this week.
The Biggest Winners of the Week – Manchester United
While it was close call between them and Chelsea, who actually won their game, we believe because of how the game went down and the fact that they will have home advantage in the next leg, Man United were the biggest winner this week. They drew 1-1 against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
However, from the way they performed, and the chances Atletico created, they should not have. United started the game extremely poorly, conceding a goal in the 7th minute of open play, to a brilliant Joao Felix header. They were practically bullied the entire first half and did not have a single touch inside Oblak’s Penalty box. In the second half, they did improve, pressing better and creating a few chances. However, they still weren’t good enough. Atletico hit the woodwork many times throughout the game and looked like they would score a second until the subs were made by Ragnick.
United was spared their blushes when 19-year-old Anthony Elanga capitalised on mistakes made by Atletico’s defence and slotted a goal past Jan Oblak. The tie is now slightly in United’s favour given their home advantage and that they are still level with the Red and White side of Madrid.
Biggest Losers of the Week – LOSC
It was difficult to choose this one. 3 of the four ties ended in draws and Chelsea were expected to win anyway. And they did, basically putting the tie to bed barring a miracle in Lille, which is highly unlikely given the fact that Tuchel’s Chelsea knows how to defend leads. So, LOSC has almost no hope to go further in the Champions League this season.
Top Performers from Each Tie
Chelsea Vs Lille – Kai Havertz.
Havertz’s performance on Tuesday night was a magnificent display at the number 9 role. This will likely cause concerns to the out of form Lukaku who is unable to adapt to the tactics and Werner, who hasn’t performed at all for Chelsea. Tuchel, though, would be delighted at having found the perfect fit up top for his tactics.
Juventus Vs Villareal – Dusan Vlahovic
The Serbian made his UCL debut for Juventus on Tuesday night, and what a debut it was. 30 seconds into the game, Vlahovic hit a sweet strike into the bottom corner to give Juventus the lead. And he kept causing a lot of problems for the Spanish side throughout the game, though couldn’t score another for his team.
Manchester United Vs Atletico Madrid – Joao Felix
Felix ran circles around the United players on Wednesday, in what is likely his best performance for the club to date. Leading the line for Atletico, alongside Angel Correa, Felix opened the scoresheet in just the 7th minute with a brilliant header from a magnificent, but difficult cross. He then kept creating chances and dribbling past players throughout the game. United just could not cope with him.
Benfica Vs Ajax – Sebastian Haller
A game of drama, with plots inside plots, Benfica Vs Ajax was a highly entertaining game. And the main man of the show was, of course, Sebastian Haller, who scored for a seventh consecutive UCL match. But, that was after he had scored an own goal. At least he made up for it, eh?
Game of the Week – Benfica Vs Ajax
Benfica Vs Ajax was pure entertainment. Tadic opened the scoring with a brilliant volley into the top corner. Benfica then responded with Vertonghen forcing Haller to score an own goal. Haller replied by scoring against Benfica immediately. A few extremely good chances were missed by both sides, before a brilliant stop on Rafa Silva’s attempt on goal led to Pasveer handing an easy chance for Yaremchuk to head home and equalise. A very open-ended game that is poised brilliantly for the next leg.