Europe showcased its best football talent last week as the continent’s top teams played the first leg in the last 16 of the UEFA (the Union of European Football Association) Champions League.
Celtic lost 3-0 at home to Juventus on Tuesday. Alessandro Matri scored for the Italian team in the first five minutes of the match after a mix-up between centre back Efe Ambrose and goalkeeper Fraser Forster. Celtic midfielder Kris Commons has criticised Ambrose in the media, publicly blaming him for the loss. Commons told British newspaper The Guardian, “There were certain individuals who let the team down. The back four have made errors which probably cost us the tie.”
Matri dealt the Irish team another blow when he set up Claudio Marchisio’s 77th-minute goal. Mirko Vucinic scored Juventus’s third goal in the last ten minutes of the match.
In Tuesday’s other fixture, hosts Valencia lost 1-2 to Paris Saint-Germain. The Parisian team controlled the match, with Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore scoring in the first half to give them a 2-0 lead. Adil Rami managed to score for Valencia in the last minute of normal playing time. PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic was shown a red card moments later. Ibrahimovic will not be able to play for PSG in the return fixture on 6 March, but manager Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping that new signing David Beckham (who did not play due to a lack of match fitness) will be available for selection.
Shakhtar Donetsk played to a 2-2 draw to Borussia Dortmund. The home side was leading 2-1 with three minutes to go after goals from Darijo Srna and Douglas Costa. Mats Hummels scored a header to give Dortmund a well-deserved equaliser. Robert Lewandowski scored the Bundesliga champions’ first goal.
Real Madrid and Manchester United drew Wednesday’s second game. Sergio Ramos, Madrid’s captain for the match, has admitted that he made a mistake to allow Danny Welbeck to score United’s goal. While taking the blame for the goal, Ramos said that the English team was fortunate to have been awarded the corner that resulted in Welbeck’s header. “He got the better of me but it was not a corner in the first place, that is certain,” he said in a press conference after the match. Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club ten minutes later. Although Madrid dominated for most of the match, United had more opportunities to score a winner. They go into the second leg of the fixture with a valuable away goal.
The remaining four matches of this round of the Champions League will be played this week, with Barcelona’s game against AC Milan and Bayern Munich’s game against Arsenal being the most eagerly anticipated. In the other fixtures, Schalke play Galatasaray and Malaga host FC Porto.