Real Madrid and Manchester City step towards quarter-finals

No surprise for the last two round of 16 first leg of the Champions League, Wednesday February 24, but different quality performances for the two evening favorites.

Real Madrid took advantage of a long numerical superiority to snatch a narrow victory late in the match at Atalanta Bergamo (1-0), while Manchester City mastered their subject by winning against Mönchengladbach (2-0 ), in a match relocated to Budapest.

  • Atalanta – Real Madrid (0-1)

French defender Ferland Mendy's curled shot saw Real win 1-0 on Atalanta's lawn in Bergamo on Wednesday (February 24).

Zinédine Zidane can thank Ferland Mendy. The French defender allowed Real Madrid to overcome an Atalanta (1-0) reduced to ten for more than seventy minutes, in Bergamo, and put him in a favorable position for the quarterfinals.

Weighted down by innumerable absences, including the lucky captain Sergio Ramos and the scorer Karim Benzema, Real assured the essential while being well helped by the rapid exclusion of the Bergamo midfielder Remo Freuler for having hooked Mendy, already him, who hit the target (17e). The fault was obvious, the red probably severe, but the referee did not hesitate.

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Atalanta had received before the match the support of a few thousand supporters gathered in front of the stadium despite a warning from health authorities on the risks of contagion from the coronavirus.

But she could not fear a worse start, and found herself, she who so often likes to attack, in a role against the job, having to defend low. Especially since his top scorer in C1, the Colombian Duvan Zapata, also came out half an hour into the game, on injury, leaving his compatriot and accomplice of the attack Luis Muriel orphaned, mainly dangerous on an off target shot (41e).

After several Madrid attempts by Vini Jr., Modric or Asencio, Atalanta seemed to hold their unexpected 0-0 when, finally, Mendy appeared, in the 86e minute, and Zidane smiled. The “Dea” is now forced to perform on its return to Madrid. That’s good, because she has won her three away games, notably at Liverpool and Ajax Amsterdam. Reviewing the quarters for the Italians, after the cruel failure of last season against Paris-SG, is at this price.

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  • Mönchengladbach – Manchester City (0-2)

Bernardo Silva scored Manchester City's first goal in the English club's victory over Mönchengladbach on Wednesday February 24 in a relocated game to Budapest.

The clock continues to turn for Manchester City: nineteenth consecutive victory, all competitions, for the men of Pep Guardiola who went to win 2-0 “away” in Budapest (Hungary) against Mönchengladbach in due to restrictions related to Covid-19 in Germany.

Faced with the best team in Europe at the start of the year, Borussia had chosen to bet on caution and rigor. Very well in place defensively, his players have long managed to cut the lines between Gündogan, Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus. But, failing to take offensive risks, they never put themselves in a position to threaten Ederson’s goal.

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It is the “Benfica sector” of the Citizens who unlocked the counter after half an hour of play, logically. Portugal’s Joao Cancelo, on the left flank, one of the most prominent men in the Manchester eleven, delivered a perfect deep ball for the header of compatriot Bernardo Silva, who cheated on goalkeeper Yann Sommer closely (1-0, 29e).

And as Gladbach began to show a little more daring after the hour mark, Gabriel Jesus killed all hope by scoring the second goal of a recovery from close to six meters, on a service from the head of the inevitable Bernardo Silva (2-0, 65e).

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The virtual assurance of qualifying for the quarter-finals will allow City to fully concentrate on the championship, which they are on their way to winning for the third time in five years. And this logical result leaves intact the dreams of the trophy of coach Pep Guardiola, who has always failed with all his teams to win the C1 again after his two triumphs with Barcelona (2009, 2011).

The World with AFP


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