It was a slow start to Champions League action today but things really spiced up. In what was described as two of the easier games to predict, there were upsets aplenty today as the underdogs handedly defeated their opponents. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to quietly delete my preview article because today did not happen the way I expected it, not even close.
Arsenal 1-3 Monaco
In our first upset, Monaco simply wiped the floor of Arsenal at the Emirates. Geoffrey Kondogbia started the scoring in the 38th minute with an incredible strike that deflected off of Per Mertesacker. Then after some dangerous defensive risks, Anthony Martial and Dimitar Berbatov made Arsenal pay for that and made it 2-0.
Even though Arsenal had some more chances than before, it looked like it would end 2-0. Into stoppage time, Arsenal got back into the game. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored what was arguably the goal of the day to make it 2-1. If the game ended here, Arsenal would still have a little hope on the second leg in Monaco. About a minute later, that hope went away. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco put that hope to bed and put Monaco up 3-1 and essentially has a three goal advantage due to the away goals rule.
Arsenal just looked like they got outclassed by Monaco. They looked like they had nothing and they aren’t going to be anywhere close to winning on the return leg. Forget about Arsenal trying to gain three goals, they probably won’t even win at all. Looks like it’ll be five straight years with Arsenal losing in the Round of 16.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid suffered the same fate as Arsenal, but at least they get to play at home and are only down by a goal. It seemed to most everyone as if this was an upset, but maybe the person running the Leverkusen scoreboard knew something we didn’t. Around 22 seconds in, the scoreboard lists Leverkusen as leading 1-0 even though it was 0-0 and they didn’t score until the second half. Quite perceptive of whoever was in charge to know the final score before it happened.
Leverkusen scored after a great Karim Bellarabi backheel pass. Bellarabi passed the ball to Hakan Calhanoglu and the rest was history. Atletico had a chance to equalize after Fernando Torres scored off the corner but the goal line ref, trying to see the action from the other end of the goal, ruled that the ball bounced out from the corner and bounced in for Torres. For some reason, the highlight doesn’t have the controversial play so here it is below. You can see that it was close and the ball seemed to be on the line. Maybe we need to have general line technology now.
If it didn’t get any worse than that for Atletico Madrid, Tiago got himself sent off with his second yellow about a minute later for a dangerous tackle. That sealed the deal and Leverkusen got the 1-0 victory. This will be a great second leg when they play in Spain in a few weeks.