It was the anticipated game of the week, as Real Madrid welcomed Paris Saint-Germain to the Bernabeu, in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash.
It seemed like Real have been saving their best outside the confines of Spain’s domestic issues, and they were on top early on here, only the face of PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola denied Cristiano Ronaldo. But it was the Parisiens who would strike first, Kylian Mbappe’s cross was evaded by Edinson Cavani, and Neymar’s flick into the path of Adrien Rabiot became an assist for the young Frenchman; 34 minutes gone, Real were behind. That only lasted 10 minutes, though, as a Giovani Lo Celso tug on Toni Kroos saw referee Gianluca Rocchi point to the post, and this time Areola wouldn’t defy Ronaldo.
The game was finely balanced in the second period, even if PSG seemed on top, Mbappe drawing a save from Keylor Navas, and Sergio Ramos blocking a shot from Presnel Kimpembe, but with eight minutes to go Real would go in front, Marco Asensio’s cross was pushed out by Areola, but only to the thigh of Ronaldo, and the ricochet found the net. Areola would be beaten again soon after, Asensio once again the supplier, and this time it was Marcelo, whose shot took a deflection on its way into the net. Advantage Real in the first leg, as PSG have some catching up to do.
Elsewhere, Ilkay Gundogan would have watched the return of David Silva with a touch of despair, as it meant the German was likely to start less games. He certainly made an impact in his start at Basel, as he bagged a brace for Manchester City, with two more goals, from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero, having Pep Guardiola and his team in the cusp of the last eight.
Liverpool were just as rampant, as a treble from Sadio Mane, as well as strikes from the partners up front, Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah, ensured a 5-0 win at Porto. The quarter finals beckon for them as well.
But one tie firmly in the balance was the one that got off to the most explosive start. Only two minutes had gone when Gonzalo Higuain put Juventus in front against Tottenham, and seven minutes after he made it two from the penalty spot. Spurs were in trouble, against a side that hadn’t conceded in 2018, but Harry Kane would break that hoodoo and put the North London club back in the game. Juve would be given another penalty just before halftime, but this time Higuain wasn’t so productive, his kick cannoned off the post, and he would regret that miss as Christian Eriksen’s free-kick, with 18 minutes to go, means the scores are level ahead of the second leg at Wembley.
Real Madrid 3-1 PSG
Juventus 2-2 Tottenham
Porto 0-5 Liverpool
Basel 0-4 Manchester City