Formidable Atletico stun Ronaldo and Juventus
MADRID, February 21: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League mission with Juventus stalled on Wednesday as Atletico Madrid secured a deserved 2-0 victory from a thrilling first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Ronaldo returned to the Spanish capital, where he enjoyed unprecedented success in this tournament with Real, but it was their rivals celebrating at the final whistle as goals from Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin put Atletico within sight of the quarter-finals.
“We are not through yet,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “There is another match to play and we know we will have to suffer.”
“Fortunately we didn’t concede a third,” said Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri. “Because 2-0 is a result that can be turned around. We’re not dead yet.”
But this was a victory that Simeone’s side fully deserved. Antoine Griezmann had hit the crossbar while VAR twice intervened, correctly, in Juve’s favour, cancelling a penalty for a foul on Diego Costa and then ruling out an Alvaro Morata header just before Gimenez struck.
While Juventus tried to preserve the stalemate, Atletico were bold. Simeone introduced Morata, Thomas Lemar and Angel Correa, all around the hour-mark, and his daring paid off. “I showed balls,” Simeone said.
Juve are certainly not dead and buried, particularly given Costa and Thomas Partey will both be suspended for the return in Turin after each picked up yellow cards.
But the failure to score an away goal, and their clear inferiority in the second half does not bode well for any hopes of a comeback.
“They don’t give you chances,” said Allegri. “They make you play badly.” (AFP)
Sterling winner caps late Man City comeback at Schalke
GELSENKIRCHEN, February 21: Raheem Sterling sealed a dramatic 3-2 Champions League win for 10-man Manchester City at Schalke as the English champions scored twice in the last five minutes on Wednesday.
Sterling tucked away the winner at the Veltins Arena in the 90th minute just after substitute Leroy Sane fired home a stunning free-kick for the Premier League leaders against his former club in the last 16, first leg.
Schalke led 2-1 at half-time as the video assistant referee (VAR) twice intervened to award penalties, both converted by Nabil Bentaleb, cancelling out Sergio Aguero’s opener in Gelsenkirchen.
City were in real trouble with 22 minutes left when Nicolas Otamendi, who gave away the controversial first penalty, was sent off for a second yellow card before Sane’s moment of brilliance and Sterling’s winner. However, City still have some work to do in the return leg on March 12 with Fernandinho, who was booked when conceding the second spot-kick, and Otamendi both suspended.
Schalke are just above the Bundesliga’s relegation places and winless in their last four league games, yet they gave Premier League leaders City an almighty scare.
The hosts initially struggled to get out of their half as Man City dominated the opening 30 minutes, until the game swung dramatically Schalke’s way with the two penalty decisions. Schalke shot themselves in the foot for City’s opening goal on 18 minutes when a lazy pass from goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann to Salif Sane was snapped up by David Silva. (AFP)