Tuesday, March 10, 2009

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Leg 2

Thinks were very, very exciting, with a lot of goals.

Where to start. Well, how about in Athens, where Villareal scored a couple goals to win 2-1 tonight to advance 3-2 on aggregate. A semi-exciting game as Villareal opened the scoring account early in the second half. Six minutes laters, Panathinaikos leveled the score on the night and on aggregate. Twenty minutes from time, the Yellow Submarine scored again and the scoreline remained unchanged.

Over in Turin, Chelsea came into the night with a one goal lead they grabbed at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago against Juventus. A draw of any kind or a win would see the Blues through to the quarter finals. Chelsea boss Guus Hiddinck kept his unbeaten record record for Chelsea intact as Chelsea and Juventus drew 2-2 tonight with Chelsea advancing 3-2 on aggregate. Michael Essein returned from his injury tonight and netted a goal in first half stoppage time, for a quality return. With Essein back and Didier Drogba getting out of his funk he experienced under Luis Felipe Scolari and scored another for the Blues in 83rd minute. The Drogba goal put an exclamation point on the the performance, which to that point would have had Chelsea advancing on the away goal rule.

Meanwhile in Liverpool at Anfield, Liverpool laid a hefty smackdown on Real Madrid with a 4-0 drubbing and advanced on a 5-0 aggregate. The night saw Fernando Torres start for the Reds and grabbed an early goal in the 17th minute. Steven Gerrard scored twice, including once on a penalty. Andrea Dossenna, who came on for Torres, scored the fourth for Liverpool. With the convincing win, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez will sure to be unbearable in teh press. But with Liverpool essentially out of the title race in the Premier League and previously ousted from the FA Cup by Everton, the Champions League is Liverpool's only shot for silverware this year. Their performance tonight is an emphatic point for Benitez and despite booting Real Madrid from the Champions League he may have actually improved his chances of getting the Real Madrid manager's job this summer.

But if you think that the Liverpool game was a goal fest, and that the Liverpool match is an abberration in the usually defensive minded Champions League, you would be wrong. Tonight Bayern Munich, a team struggling for consistency in the Bundesliga, made Liverpool's four goal performance seem absolutely dull by comparison as Bayern laid a seven goal performance on Sporting Lisbon. Although Bayern didn't keep a clean sheet, they did score the biggest margin ever, advancing on a 12-1 aggregate over the Portuguese side. Yes you read that right a 12-1 aggregate score over the two games. Lukas Podolski grabbed a brace, Bayern were gifted an own goal and four other Bayern players grabbed a goal. Even without stars Franck Ribery and Luca Toni, Bayern still went with a largely A-team starting line-up.

All told, in the first round first leg, the eight teams scored a grand total of nine goals. In the second leg, the goal scoring tally was 19 goals tonight. 19!!! That is scoring. Will it continue tomorrow night? I certainly hope so.

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