It is the Champions League last 16 once again as thoughts turn to continental football matters – with lots to play for.
The first batch of the second leg matches in the round of 16 will provide some intriguing finishes. Borussia Dortmund held a 3-2 advantage, winning away against Sevilla with matters settled in Germany, while Juventus had a deficit to make up against Porto losing 2-1 on Portuguese shores.
Liverpool have been falling like a stone in the Premier League but were 2-0 to the good against RB Leipzig, while Paris Saint-Germain produced the performance of the round by hammering Barcelona 4-1. A fascinating prospect to see Barcelona trying to make headway into their huge disadvantage.
Let’s check out the five takeaways from these Champions League last 16 matches:
Champions League Last 16: What Has Happened so Far?
Hitman Haaland at the Double Again
The form of Erling Braut Haaland in the Champions League is unprecedented. The Norwegian now has 20 goals towards his continental tally in just 14 appearances. And against Sevilla, he scored twice, just as he did in the first leg. A tap-in and a penalty gave Borussia Dortmund a 2-2 draw on the night and went through 5-4 on aggregate.
The 20-year-old striker is already firing his way to the history books. He has scored twice in four consecutive Champions League matches, becoming the first player ever to achieve the feat. He also holds the record of scoring the most tournament goals before his 21st birthday with 20, beating Kylian Mbappé on 19. Haaland will look to add to his incredible feats as he takes his place in the quarter-finals.
Juventus Knocked Out in Five Goal Champions League Thriller
Even with a 2-1 reverse, Juventus were the favourites to pull through against Porto. Yet the Portuguese side remarkably clinched their quarter-final berth losing 3-2 on the night but winning on away goals. Even more astoundingly was the fact Porto played with ten men since the 54th minute and the whole of extra time.
It was Mehdi Taremi who saw two quickfire yellow cards in two minutes to receive his marching orders. But Porto produced a stoic performance with two goals from Sérgio Oliveira, the latter being in extra time, which sent Porto through.
As for Juventus, this will be a devastating blow. Despite having a man advantage for the majority of the game, The Old lady was sunk to her needs. Therefore they bow out and left Cristiano Ronaldo watching his countrymen get the spoils. It is another opportunity out of the window for him and his Turin side to seek their coveted Champions League title.
Liverpool Find Form in Champions League
Liverpool might be in free-fall in the Premier League but in Europe, they remain a force. The Reds brushed past RB Leipzig 2-0 once again to win 4-0 on aggregate. The team seem to take comfort by focusing away from domestic matters with continental football proving a mental safe-haven for Jųrgen Klopp’s men. They will be into the hat for the quarter-finals in a competition that brings out the best in them.
Paris Progress into the Last Eight
The Parisians finally overcame Barcelona over two legs with a 1-1 draw on the night and 5-2 overall. Kylian Mbappé scored a penalty to take his tally to four goals over the two games. It wasn’t a vintage performance but Paris prevailed. Now, Les Parisiens will be dreaming of Champions League glory once again as they take one step closer to the prize they cherish.
Barcelona Bow Out Fighting
Although the Catalans are out of the competition, they leave with their head held high. Barca went out on their sword with a spirited display. Ronald Koeman’s men dominated the game with 15 shots to Paris’ seven with 67 per cent possession.
Lionel Messi scored their goal and had a glorious opportunity to make the game even more interesting. However, the striker squandered a penalty on the edge of half time for a 2-1 lead, which proved to be a key moment. But Barcelona showed a much-improved performance from the first leg to take into their league campaign, where they are only six points from first place Atlético Madrid and in April’s Copa del Rey final.