Full of surprises, the second set of matches saw the underdogs take the spotlight while perennial Champions League teams fail to live up to their pedigrees. This week had two late equalizers – one from CSKA Moscow against Madrid and the other from Basel against Bayern Munich, while Inter Milan and Chelsea played poorly. With the second leg up to come in a few weeks, we’ll see if the powerhouse clubs bounce back. If not, this may be the year of the Cinderella story for a bunch of unexpected teams in the the soccer world.
Real Madrid Vs. CSKA Moscow 1-1
Credit Moscow keeper Sergey Chepchugov and some late game magic from the Russians to end the game tied in the first leg against Real Madrid. Los Blancos looked like taking the first leg with a one goal lead after the 28th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a loose ball in the box, easily smashing it in. Ronaldo failed to capitalize on additional opportunities to widen the gap which later lead CSKA midfielder Pontus Wembloom to equalize right before time expired. Heading back to Spain for the second leg, Moscow have the momentum but upsetting the nine-time UCL champs on their turf won’t be a walk in the park.
Napoli Vs. Chelsea 3-1
Looks like England won’t have a club in the UCL quarterfinals after two goals from Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi (“39 & “65) and a late first half strike from Edinson Cavini (“45 + 2). Chelsea benefitted from a poor Napoli clearance to gift Juan Mata with the first goal (“27) but faltered with other chances as the Italians replied three times without answer. Luckily the Londoners have a goal on the board as they come home to Stamford Bridge for the second leg but an exit from the UCL will further hurt Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boa’s chances of keeping his job. If Napoli continue their form and advance, look for them to be the team no one wants to face in the next round.
Basel Vs. FC Bayern Munich 1-0
Swiss underdogs Basel fought German powerhouse Bayern Munich fiercely, getting rewarded in the 89th minute as substitute Valentin Stocker knocked in the late goal. Munich would regret their chances to score, most notably a shot from Frank Ribery at close range. A shocking result by Basel proves that their place in the round of 16 was no fluke but Bayern are sure to return the favor back home with no mercy.
Olympique de Marseille Vs. Inter Milan 1-0
2010 UCL Champs Inter Milan faced Marseille in France to an uninspired effort but a shot from Diego Forlan tipped over the bar showing a brief moment of brilliance thwarted. Marseille surely had some spectacular shots of their own but overall the match was a yawn fest with the expectation of a scoreless draw. But before the final whistle Andre Ayew heads in a goal from a corner kick in injury time to snatch the victory, handing Inter another bad loss in a season of misfortune. Unless the Italians bring an inspiring effort when they return home, an exit from this round may be likely.