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Champions League Roundup – 05/03/13

Football fans across the country were bracing themselves for one of the biggest games in history on Tuesday, with giants Manchester United and Real Madrid going head-to-head in a bid to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. While this was the clash that received the most media attention, there was also another last sixteen game as Borussia Dortmund took on Shakhtar Donetsk. Following on from the evening of Champions League action, I’ll now take a look at both games.

Man Utd 1 Real Madrid 2
While the fixture in Germany will have proven popular in some parts of the world, there’s no doubt that most eyes were fixated on Old Trafford. This was classed as one of the biggest football matches of recent times, with both of these heavyweights going up against each other following an exciting 1-1 first leg at the Bernabeu.
Unsurprisingly, this game was also full of excitement. The return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford obviously played a big part in the occasion, while there were many raised eyebrows after Sir Alex Ferguson decided to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench. Once proceedings got going the first half can be classed as an evenly matched affair, although this was soon to change in the opening stages of the second half after Sergio Ramos put the ball into his own net to give the home side the lead.
Many would agree that the goal was well deserved for United – although their good fortune was not to last long. Just eight minutes after taking the lead, Portuguese attacker Nani was in the centre of yet more controversy – although on this occasion many would argue that it wasn’t his fault. After going into a high challenge with defender Alvaro Arbeloa, some were expecting play to continue. Instead, referee Cuneyt Cakir abruptly stopped proceedings and showed Nani a straight red card – much to the shock of the entire stadium.
Unsurprisingly, this gave the visitors a massive lift and they duly took advantage. Luka Modrid grabbed the equaliser with a terrific effort from twenty yards, while Cristiano Ronaldo confirmed the victory after sliding in at the back post to convert a Gonzalo Higuain cross. While he decided not to celebrate the goal, he was well aware that the strike practically guaranteed Madrid’s place in the next round due to the away-goal rule, which meant that United would have to score twice to avoid being knocked out.

Borussia Dortmund 3 Shakhtar Donetsk 0
While there may have been less attention placed on this game, it was still going to be an entertaining spectacle for any neutral out there. These sides had drawn 2-2 in a pulsating game in Shakhtar in the first leg, so there was plenty riding on the return game in Germany although Dortmund unquestionably held the advantage due to the away goals rule.
As it turns out, the current Bundesliga champions didn’t even need said rule. Two goals in the space of six minutes practically guaranteed them progression to the last eight, with Felipe Santana and Mario Gotze scoring on the 31st and 37th minute respectively. Both goals came from crosses, with the former from a corner while Gotze’s strike came following good work down the wing by coveted man Robert Lewandowski.

Dortmund were in cruise control throughout although they still had more in the tank, with Jakub Blaszczykowski topping off a fine performance on the hour mark after capitalizing from an error from Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.


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