Talking points as 'absurd' Manchester City run riot past hapless Schalke in 7-0 win

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Manchester City

Manchester City steamrolled Schalke to register a 7-0 win – 10-2 on aggregate – and march into the quarter-finals of the Champions League in emphatic fashion. 

Sergio Aguero scored an early brace before Leroy Sane added one more to put the result beyond doubt before half-time. 

Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus found the net in the second half to eliminate the German team in humiliating fashion. 

We take a look at the talking points from the goal-fest. 

Manchester City are just absurd 

No team marched into the quarter-finals as convincingly as City did. The Premier League leaders ran riot at the Etihad stadium and were clearly the better side in every department. 

City’s approach to the game oozed winning mentality. The hosts refused to turn down the tempo no matter what the score-line read. They were there not to just qualify for the quarters, but to make a powerful statement that they should be considered favourites in the tournament. 

Aguero should have been taken off at half-time, given City had a comfortable lead and the Argentine was a yellow away from missing the next game. But he wasn’t taken off until the hour-mark and looked as hungry as ever even after bagging the brace. 

The intensity shown by the players despite practically putting the game to bed in the first 30 minutes was truly commendable. 

Leroy Sane

Leroy Sane

Goodbye Tedesco? 

A lot was expected of Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco after a successful first season at the club. The Italian led the German team to a second place finish in the league and ensured that they made it past the group stages of the Champions League. 

However, his second season has been nothing short of a disaster and it would not be surprising if he is sacked immediately. 

Schalke are now hovering above the relegation zone and enduring an extremely tough phase in the league. Their chances of survival are still positive but the momentum is not with them.

The German team was not expected to emerge victorious in this tie but bowing out in such humiliating fashion should be the last straw for Tedesco. 

There was absolutely no plan, no sense of organisation as Schalke were overridden by the hosts. 

Tedesco

Tedesco

Boring VAR? 

Another huge talking point from this game has to be the luxurious use of VAR (Video assistant refereeing).  

The technological tool designed to help the referee make the right decision was used very generously and broke the flow of the game at times. 

VAR was used to check for the penalty that led to the first goal and each of the next three goals. A couple of those were clear as day and did not warrant its use. The technology was further called upon in the second half to rightfully deny Sane a goal. 

While VAR is seen as a boon that helps achieve fair results, it was used far too frequently and unnecessarily and broke the flow of the game multiple times. This game showed why the rules governing the necessity to go to VAR needs to be stricter. 

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Juventus talking points as Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick inspires memorable comeback against Atletico Madrid

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Juventus needed something special to overturn a 2-0 result in the first leg at Atletico Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t disappoint.

The Portuguese scored a hat-trick against his old foes to fire his the Bianconeri into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 3-0 victory in Turin, ensuring a 3-2 result on aggregate.

Even though Juventus were controversially denied a goal in the opening five minutes, Ronaldo’s exceptional header in the 27th minute saw them draw first blood. The 34-year-old was at it again four minutes into the second half, again nodding home at the back post.

After Federico Bernadeschi was felled inside the area five minutes from time, Ronaldo converted from the spot to complete a memorable hat-trick.

RONALDO HEADLINES JUVE FIGHTBACK

The Champions League offers the best players in the world a platform to shine and Ronaldo rarely passes up an opportunity to take centre stage. The odds were stacked against Juve ahead of this round of 16 second leg, yet there were suspicions that the first half of the script had only served to set up a dramatic climax.

Having signed Ronaldo in the summer primarily in an effort to finally attain an elusive third top-flight European title, the Portuguese had thus far disappointed in the competition that has historically brought the best out of him, scoring just once in six appearances during its latest edition.

But with the stage set and Juventus in desperate need of a European special from their main man, Ronaldo couldn’t help but oblige. He was fired up from the start, embodying his side’s urgency, rallying the home support at every opportunity and it was only fitting that he made the breakthrough.

The manner of his first goal was a spectacle in itself. There appeared to be no danger as Juanfran had Ronaldo covered at the far post as Federico Bernadeschi wound up for a cross but, as the delivery came in, the forward showed immense strength, determination and athleticism to dominate his man in the air and bury an emphatic header past Jan Oblak.

He continued to threaten throughout the encounter and his second came from another superb aerial effort, using his phenomenal leap to tower over defenders and nod the ball over the line – just.

Bernadeschi had a tremendous game, only outshone by Ronaldo’s heroics, and his mazy run late on earned a penalty and with it the opportunity for a Ronaldo hat-trick. No-one was surprised when he dispatched it with aplomb, firing it into the bottom corner and Juventus into the quarter-finals – thus fulfilling the prophecy.

Cristiano Ronaldo header

VAR CONTROVERSY

An intense start to proceedings from Juventus made for a pulsating opening few minutes and even with the encounter in its infancy, a goal for the hosts seemed inevitable. Low and behold, the ball was in Atletico’s net in the fifth minute but referee Bjorn Kuipers immediately blew for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Ronaldo and Oblak pounced for a loose ball inside the six-yard box and both seemed to get a bit of it. The Portuguese’s challenge kept the goalkeeper from scooping up the ball and it fell to Giorgio Chielini who slotted home. Wild celebrations from the Juve players were quickly cut short by the official in the middle who adjudged Ronaldo to have fouled the visiting custodian.

Even though replays suggested that Oblak wasn’t in control of the ball, VAR sided with the on-field decision, even opting against having the referee review the incident on the touchline screen.

While the technology or system are certainly not to blame in these scenarios, it has brought to light the discrepancies in how the rules are interpreted by various officials.That’s something UEFA must address to ensure consistency across the competition.

Chiellini's goal was ruled out

ATLETI HAVE THEMSELVES TO BLAME

Diego Simeone is a vastly experienced manager and Atletico as a whole should’ve known exactly what to expect when they made the trip to Turin. Whether they were overwhelmed by the electric atmosphere inside the Allianz Stadium or the occasion was simply too big for them, they never looked like they believed they would progress.

The Spanish outfit started slowly and sat far too deep without really posing a threat on the counter-attack. Their game-plan was evident – grind out a result at all costs. However, it only served to invite Juventus onto them and if you get the ball to Ronaldo enough times in and around the box, he’s sure to do some damage.

The tactics were disappointing from Simeone, it has to be said, but the lack of grit in defence and teeth in attack were startlingly uncharacteristic. Alvaro Morata’s header over the bar in the first half when he was unmarked from eight yards out meant the visitors didn’t register a single shot on target all night.

Following a passionate display at the Wanda Metropolitano it’s a shame that their European journey has ended with a whimper.

Diego Simeone

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Toothless Thomas Lemar and reckless Angel Correa earn 2s in Atletico Madrid ratings

Matt Jones 13/03/2019
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Atletico Madrid were dumped out of the Champions League as a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juventus roared into the quarter-finals.

The visitors might have hoped for a quiet night in Turin but a feverous home crowd were up for this game and they rose the roof when Ronaldo capitalised on early pressure to power the hosts ahead with a towering header midway through the first half. Another header made it 2-0 – Jan Oblak looked to have made a stunning one-handed save but goal-line technology ruled it had crossed.

Ronaldo’s hat-trick – his third a penalty after substitute Angel Correa stupidly felled Federico Bernardeschi – saw their 2-0 first-leg advantage eroded as Diego Simeone’s gutless approach contributed to a meek exit.

Here’s how we rated Los Rojiblancos’ players:

ATLETICO MADRID (4-4-2)

Jan Oblak – 7: Lucky to win a foul as Juve’s early goal was ruled out? Perhaps. Seemed he’d made a stunning save from Ronaldo.

Santiago Arias – 5: A busy night patrolling right flank and keeping tabs on marauding Spinazzola and Matuidi. Struggled to do so.

Jose Gimenez – 5: Made only two passes in first half. Team leading 10 clearances. Impetuous at times.

Diego Godin – 6: Important early block, kept a cool head in an early white-hot environment, but couldn’t shackle Ronaldo.

Juanfran – 4: Dominated by Ronaldo – no shame in that – for the opening goal. Looked every one of his 34 years thereafter.

Koke – 6: Grew into the game after Juve smothered him and Saul in the opening 45. But not his best night. Five tackles, three clearances showed his appetite.

Saul Niguez – 5: Like midfield partner, simply outshone by relentless Juventus press. Insipid.

Rodrigo – 5: Worked tirelessly in the midfield, making four clearances, but simply overawed, as were many team-mates.

Thomas Lemar – 2: Brought into the team and was quickly back on the bench after an anonymous outing.

Antoine Griezmann – 3: Knew he’d be in for a lonesome night up front. Got involved defensively. Horribly isolated.

Alvaro Morata – 4: Missed a golden chance to equalise on the night against his old side when he headed over. Biggest contribution was spat with Chiellini.

SUBS:

Angel Correa – 2: Push for penalty was soft but such a reckless thing to do in the box. Absolutely no need. Crazy.

Vitolo N/A: Brought on to supply Morata but simply couldn’t get involved. A grand contribution of 10 touches.

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