‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja
Daily Courier – Manchester City underlined their status as Champions League favourites with a ruthless 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Lisbon to effectively book their place in the quarter-finals.
City, runners-up last season, blew Sporting away with a rampant first-half display at the Jose Alvalade Stadium as they became the first side in the competition’s history to lead by four goals at the halfway point of a Champions League knockout game.
The rout began when Riyad Mahrez turned home a Kevin De Bruyne cut-back (7), with VAR overturning the initial decision to rule the goal out for offside following a lengthy check.
Bernardo Silva, one of four players in the City team to have previously played for Sporting’s bitter rivals Benfica, then doubled their lead with a stunning half-volleyed finish which crashed into the net off the underside of the bar following a corner (17).
Silva then scored his second as Sporting left him unmarked to fire past beleaguered goalkeeper Antonio Adan with the help of a deflection after a Sterling lay-off (44).
Silva was denied a hat-trick by VAR just a few minutes after half-time when he nodded home De Bruyne’s diagonal cross from close-range, only for replays to show he was in an offside position.
There was no let-up from City, however, with Sterling adding a stunning fifth not long afterwards when he cut inside and curled a brilliant effort into the top corner from outside the box (58).
Paris Saint-Germain 1 Real Madrid 0
Kylian Mbappe’s injury-time strike saw PSG beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Parc des Princes.
PSG had appeared to be heading for a frustrating goalless draw in the French capital after Lionel Messi saw his 62nd-minute penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois.
All this after Mauricio Pochettino’s side had dominated most of the clash, only for Mbappe to twice be denied by excellent Courtois stops in each half, before Messi was given the chance to break the deadlock from the spot after Dani Carvajal had foolishly lunged in on Mbappe in the box.
Meanwhile, Neymar also took his place on the bench having recovered from the ankle injury he picked up in November. And Italy No 1 Gianluigi Donnarumma was also in goal for the hosts.
Meanwhile, the visitors made three changes, with Luka Modric, Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema all returning. Meanwhile, Gareth Bale dropped to the subs’ bench having started the weekend draw with Villarreal.
Both managers brought on a raft of substitutes in an effort to break the deadlock, with the hosts seeing the return of Neymar after a four-month layoff with an ankle injury, while Real introduced Wales forward Gareth Bale, but with little effect.
That was until the fourth and final minute of stoppage time when Neymar’s cheeky back-heel released Mbappe down the left side of the area and within the blink of an eye the striker’s quick feet saw him one on one with Courtois.
The angle was tight, but Mbappe – who has been consistently linked with a move to Real this summer – kept his cool to side-foot home through Courtois’s legs for his 22nd goal of the season to hand PSG a slender advantage heading into the return leg in Madrid on March 9.
Lionel Messi’s last two penalty misses in the Champions League have been at Parc Des Princes – with Barcelona in March 2021 and tonight for PSG. Since his first season in the competition (2004-05), no player has failed to score more penalties than the Argentinean (5).
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois registered his first ever penalty save in the UEFA Champions League, with Messi’s effort the fourth spot kick he has faced in the competition.