We review the highlights and results from around Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bayer Leverkusen 2 – Atletico Madrid 4 (Tuesday, February 21st)
Atletico Madrid took a big step toward advancing to the quarter-final rounds with a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday evening. In a match that promised to feature an attacking showcase, the two clubs did not disappoint in Germany.
Atletico’s ability on the counter and Leverkusen manager Roger Schmidt’s high-press approach combined to produce a frantic pace, with Los Rojiblancos gaining the early advantage through a wonderful strike from Saul Niguez (17’).
French international Antoine Griezmann (25’) added another to make it 2-0 at half-time. But strong work from Leverkusen brought them back into the match, as Karim Bellarabi scored in the 48th minute to cut into the deficit.
A foul just inside the penalty area gave Atletico another scoring opportunity, with Kevin Gameiro (59’) converting from the spot. Pressure from Die Werkself continued, eventually finding the back of the net through a Stefan Savic own-goal (68’) to make the score 3-2 in favor of Atletico Madrid.
A magnificent header from striker Fernando Torres (86’) gave the visitors a 4-2 lead going into the second leg in the Spanish capital.
Atletico and manager Diego Simeone are certainly in a great position to advance, but Leverkusen will be able to draw confidence from their two strikes. However, allowing four away goals puts extra emphasis on strong defensive work on top of attacking play in the second leg.
Manchester City 5 – AS Monaco 3 (Tuesday, February 21st)
Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola secured an incredible 5-3 victory Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium against Ligue 1 leaders AS Monaco. The match resembled a heavyweight title bout, with breathtaking skill and a fantastic pace.
English international Raheem Sterling opened the scoring in the 26th minute, with Radamel Falcao (32’) answering for Monaco only moments later. A poor clearance from City goalkeeper Willy Caballero directly leads to the visitors’ first goal.
Monaco gained a 2-1 advantage just before half-time through Kylian Mbappe-Lottin (40’), not long after shouts for a City penalty were left unheard by referee Antonio Mateu.
The second half was not for the faint of heart.
Falcao missed a penalty-kick with a poor effort only three minutes in, with striker Sergio Aguero scoring the equalizer for City in the 58th minute. But Falcao would not be denied his second goal of the evening.
A surreal individual effort left both John Stones and Willy Caballero in a state of embarrassment, as the Colombian international (61’) sliced through the City half of the field and reclaimed the lead for Monaco 3-2.
Guardiola’s side was frustrated but showed impressive determination and team spirit late in the contest. Two corner kicks produced a victory for City, as a second strike from Aguero (71’) and one from Stones (77’) capped off a memorable evening in Manchester.
Les Rouges et Blancs certainly displayed their quality in the final third, and City may require a better defensive effort during the second leg in Monaco to advance to the quarter-final round.
FC Porto 0 – Juventus 2 (Wednesday, February 22nd)
With two of this generation’s best goalkeepers on opposite ends of the field in Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus earned an important 2-0 victory at FC Porto on Wednesday. The home side fought well throughout but was unable to keep pace after going down a man early in the first half.
Porto defender Alex Telles’ two reckless and clumsy fouls in a span of fewer than 90 seconds had him sent off in the 27th minute, leaving the Portuguese side at a major disadvantage. The Bianconeri attack was relentless, but Porto survived the first half thanks to the efforts of Casillas in goal and help from the woodwork.
But quick goals from Juventus substitutes Marko Pjaca (72’) and Dani Alves (74’) sunk Porto late in the match, putting the Old Lady in an excellent position to advance in the second leg.
Sevilla FC 2 – Leicester City 1 (Wednesday, February 22nd)
Leicester City’s domestic woes have followed them to Spain, where a 2-1 loss at Sevilla has them in a dangerous position heading into the second leg at the King Power Stadium.
An alarming lack of effort for the Foxes made most of the evening quite easy on Los Nervionenses. Sevilla dominated possession and was a constant threat moving into the attack.
Forward Joaquin Correa missed a penalty in the 14th minute, as Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel kept his side in the contest early.
But the chances began to pile up on the visitors, with Pablo Sarabia’s header (25’) opening the scoring for Sevilla. Correa made up for his penalty miss in the first half with a strike to double the lead in the 62nd minute.
But all was not lost for the Premier League title-holders. Jamie Vardy (73’) scored late and provided the club a crucial away goal heading into the second leg. Despite strong play and a better overall performance from Sevilla, Leicester just may be able to work some magic with an eye on the quarter-final rounds.