Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It Happened in Europe: PSG and City draw, Wolfsburg upset Real Madrid

Paris-St. Germain 2-2 Manchester City
PSG have nothing else to play for other than the Champions League. They have had the French title wrapped up for a while now, and are free to pour all their energy into these matches. In this most intriguing of quarterfinal matchups, the French giants faced English opposition for the second round in a row. The game was heated right from the start. David Luiz pulled down Sergio Aguero 12 seconds in to earn the fastest yellow card in Champions League history.

PSG thought they would go ahead early on when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was gifted a penalty in the 13th minute when David Luiz was brought down by Bacary Sagna. The normally reliable Zlatan had his shot saved by Joe Hart, keeping the game scoreless. Ibrahimovic had a couple chances to redeem himself in the following quarter hour or so. He failed to hit the target on any of them, though. Those failures would come to haunt them. A 38th minute break was finished by Kevin de Bruyne gave Manchester City a huge away goal.

That goal would evidently make them soft and complacent as Ibrahimovic was given a gift three minutes later. Looking to build from the back, City played a goal kick short to Fernando, who lazily collected and allowed Zlatan to swoop in and poke the loose ball into the gaping net. They would regain the lead in the second half just before the hour mark. On a 59th minute corner, Adrien Rabiot pounced on a loose ball for an easy tap in to make it 2-1.

City would not allow PSG to escape France with the lead like Chelsea did. In the 72nd minute, a somewhat harmless attack took advantage of a breakdown in the Paris defense and a deflected shot by Fernandinho trickled into the net to level the score. They would take their pair of away goals with them back home to Manchester.

PSG has to see this as a disappointment. They had the lead in the second half and allowed a simple defensive breakdown to ruin their entire evening. They will now need a win at Etihad Stadium to avoid yet another quarterfinal defeat.

VfL Wolfsburg 2-0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid figured to have an easy, easy road to the semis. They would face Wolfsburg, who are a mid-table German outfit that won't even sniff this competition next year. Add to this Keylor Navas's perfect goalkeeping record in the Champions League and one would expect this trip to Germany to be a small bump in the road on their way to total dominance of this tie. Turns out the bump was far larger than first anticipated. Wolfsburg's first goal came in the 18th minute from the penalty spot after Casemiro brought down Andre Schurrle in the penalty area. Defender Ricardo Rodriguez sent Keylor Navas the wrong way and buried the attempt. Wolfsburg were not stopping at a single goal, though. A tap in goal in the 25th minute from Maximilian Arnold doubled the Wolfsburg lead.

Real Madrid came out firing in the second half, but the Wolfsburg defensive shell held strong enough to take a 2-0 lead with them into the Spanish capital. Holding Real Madrid to less than two goals at home is far from easy, but they have certainly left themselves with a capable chance to landing the upset and making a shock run to the semis.

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