Draxler, Juve, City celebrate: best of the first legs

26 Feb

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Player: Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg)
Wolfsburg were favourites to win their first leg at Gent but it was still the Bundesliga side’s first knockout game in this competition. It took 44 minutes for them to open the scoring in Belgium and Draxler did so with a neat-one two before a fine solo effort for a second early in the second half. A late Gent comeback meant Wolfsburg only won 3-2 but Draxler’s touch, pace and cool head in front of goal ensured that the quarter-finals are in reach.


Draxler was modest in his post-match interview with UEFA.com: “I try to do my best, and today I was very lucky that it was as it was. Hopefully I can score again in the second leg and help my team.”

Watch Draxler’s double at Gent

Team: Juventus
OK, Bayern München are clear favourites to knock out last season’s finalists after a 2-2 draw in Turin, but it was how that scoreline came about that gave Juve plenty of credit. When Arjen Robben had the freedom of the home box to curl in a trademark left-foot shot to put Bayern two up with 35 minutes to go, things looked rather bleak for the Italian champions, and frankly the away team had spurned enough chances to be seven or eight up.

Juve, though, had not lost a European home game since a 2-0 reverse against Bayern in 2013 or indeed any match since December. And after Paulo Dybala pulled one back on 63 minutes, the worm turned. Stefano Sturaro equalised after being set up by another substitute brought on seconds before, Álvaro Morata, who got the winner when Juve launched a similarly unlikely comeback to prevail 2-1 at Manchester City on matchday one. Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung summed up Bayern’s thinking with their headline: “Unnecessary excitement.” Speak for yourselfs, SZ.

Juve’s comeback against Bayern

Result: Dynamo Kyiv 1-3 Manchester City
Dynamo had not played since December before Wednesday’s first leg but then their visitors were on a run of three consecutive competitive defeats, their worst since 2010. City, indeed, have never made it further than this stage but after winning their group and avoiding Barcelona, their nemeses in both previous round of 16 appearances, Manuel Pellegrini’s side turned on the style in wintry Kyiv.

Sergio Agüero scored in the 15th minute and before half-time David Silva found the target, just as he had done in the same stadium in the UEFA EURO 2012 final for Spain. Vitaliy Buyalskiy pulled one back but City kept their nerve and although Yaya Touré missed a golden opportunity, he did make it 3-1 near the end. “We let City show their best qualities and we failed to show ours,” was the verdict of crestfallen Dynamo coach Serhiy Rebrov.

See City triumph in Kyiv

Number: 0
The number of goals conceded by the three Spanish contenders as Real Madrid won 2-0 at Roma, Barcelona matched that score at Arsenal and Atlético Madrid became the first team to keep a clean sheet away to PSV Eindhoven in more than a year as they drew 0-0. None of the five non-Spanish away teams kept a clean sheet.

Madrid prevail at Roma

Quote: “I liked everything about Barcelona from the very beginning”
Coach Luis Enrique seems content at Barcelona’s victory in London.

Watch Barcelona beat Arsenal

Jinx broken: Lionel Messi v Petr Čech
Six times Messi had come up against Čech for Barcelona versus Chelsea, and six times the goalkeeper had denied the Argentina forward. For 71 minutes of Barcelona’s game at Arsenal that continued, but then Messi found the target, and rubbed it in by converting a penalty later on.

Photo: Renato Sanches (Benfica) & Javi García (Zenit)

©AFP/Getty Images

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