Manchester City is continuing from where they stopped last year to defend their Champions League title, with the side’s Round of 16 spot confirmed.
In the meantime, it disappointed Manchester United and FC Barcelona, suffering shock losses from FC Copenhagen and Shakhtar Donetsk, respectively, jeopardizing their UCL campaigns.
Along with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich advance to the Round of 16.
Haaland Scores a Double
In front of a stadium with sold-out Champions League tickets, Erling Haaland registered a brace to make it 39 goals in the UEFA Champions League.
He is now in the top 20 leading goalscorers in the Champions League at just 23. Since wearing a Manchester City shirt, he has scored 67 goals in just 70 games.
Earlier, he was seen as a one-dimensional player in scoring. As of late, he’s added another dimension to his game with sensational long-range goals, leaving pundits and fans astounded.
One of the reasons that we see the Manchester City games having sold-out Champions League tickets, be it home or away, is primarily due to Haaland.
Rio Ferdinand couldn’t help but acknowledge that if Haaland continues to add these long-range goals to his arsenal, he becomes nearly impossible for defenders to contain.
It was a relatively comfortable win over the Young Boys, as Pep Guardiola’s team has a new European record for an English club, with an unbeaten streak of 18 games.
It is the fifth-longest streak since the inception of the Champions League in 1992. This impressive consistency, coupled with a cadre of talented players and an astute coach, positions City as a strong contender to retain the coveted Champions League trophy.
In the Champions League after 1992, only Real Madrid has had the privilege of achieving this feat, and ex-United player Ferdinand adds that this City team is the complete package.
In the Champions League era, only Real Madrid has achieved this feat, and City, according to Ferdinand, seems like the complete package.
Guardiola emphasizes the importance of maintaining high standards and consistency in football. Although the competitive landscape constantly evolves, this Manchester City team is getting their everyday basics right.
And this mindset is making them undefeatable as they look to defend a treble.
They are strong contenders to become the second team since 1992 to successfully defend the Champions League title.
United’s Hopes in the Champions League Over?
While one end of Manchester is beating record after another, the Red Devils are back at ground zero with another shocking 4-3 loss against Copenhagen.
Played in the Copenhagen home ground with a stadium filled with fans responsible for sold-out Champions League tickets, it was an utter disappointment for every United fan.
And it was a 17-year-old who brought FC Copenhagen the winner. Roony Bardghji, a 17-year-old winger born in Kuwait, scored the 87th-minute winner for FC Copenhagen.
The match was a rollercoaster from the start. Rasmus Hojlund, a former Copenhagen player, netted a brace in the 28 minutes of play to get United in front.
Then, the game took a dramatic twist as the referee awarded Marcus Rashofrd a Red Card. Just before halftime, Copenhagen equalized with a goal and another goal off a penalty kick.
After a Bruno Fernandes penalty in the second half for United, Copehnagaen equaled in the 83rd minute.
Then, Bardghji, the youngest Champions League scorer against United, found the net with a bouncing shot, securing an iconic victory for the Danish club. It was a dream come true for every fan who made it to the stadium for an evening of sold-out Champions League tickets.
Manchester United now sits at the bottom of their group with three points, one less than Copenhagen and Galatasaray. Manager Erik Ten Hag has a challenging task – they must qualify with just two games to go.
If they lose against Galatasaray, that would mean elimination. However, the following game after Galatasaray is against Bayern Munich, which will be more challenging.
If United fails to make the cut in the group stage finishing in the top 2, it will be one of their worst Champions League performances in over a decade. They will then play in the Europa League playoff if they do not go through.
The Copenhagen atmosphere was electric. Copenhagen fans displaying a tifo reading “Your Theatre of Nightmares” before the game, referencing United’s “Theatre of Dreams” nickname for Old Trafford.
After Galatasaray’s shocking winner at Old Trafford, United will also find it tough in Turkey. Expect another massive crowd with sold-out Champions League tickets.
“We started very well; we controlled the game until the red card,” said Hojlund. “And that changed the game, of course.”
Madrid Qualify for Round of 16
Real Madrid, the most successful team in the Champions League, made their place in the Round of 16 with an easy win over Sporting Braga at the Bernabeu.
Brahim Diaz opened the scoring after he connected with Rodrygo’s cross and fired into the roof of the net. Vinicius Jr then added a second goal, coolly slotting into the bottom corner after dribbling past the Braga defense.
Minutes later, Vinicius provided the third goal, setting up Rodyrgo, who chipped the ball over Braga’s goalkeeper.
In the absence of their regular #1 Kepa, Andriy Lunin handled the posts, and he was able to save Braga’s penalty.
Diaz had a goal disallowed, with Vinicius judged to have fouled in the build-up.
It is another win for Real in their Champions League run, as they extend their unbeaten streak to nine home games.
They go into the history books to be the team to reach the Round of 16 for the 26th consecutive time.
The fans brought out a stadium to make it sold-out Champions League tickets and were delighted to see their team in full swing.
Jude Bellingham, Real’s previous match-day player of the match in the Champions League, was benched owing to a shoulder injury, marking the first time since joining the club that he has not started a Champions League match.
Only two more fixtures remain for Real – Napoli and Union Berlin. The Napoli encounter should be feisty, while the side should have it easy against Union Berlin.
Union Berlin took their first points in the UEFA Champions League when they drew 1-1 with Napoli in their home.
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