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Night of shocks in UEFA Champions League: Wolfsburg beat Real Madrid, Man City hold PSG

By News Express on 07/04/2016

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Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid suffered a shock 2-0 Champions League defeat at Wolfsburg in Wednesday’s quarterfinal, first-leg to leave them on the verge of a European exit.

Just five days after ending Barcelona's 39-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 away win in El Clasico, Real were humbled as Wolfsburg ignored their struggling mid-table form in Germany’s top flight.

Real never recovered as first-half goals from Swiss defender Ricardo Rodriguez and Maximilian Arnold put the hosts 2-0 up at the Volkswagen Arena with 25 minutes gone.

“I’m not happy, above all with the first-half. This can happen if you don’t play with intensity from the start,” said Zidane.

“Despite everything I'm proud of the team, we have to think about resting well and think about the return because we have the chance to change this in the return leg.”

Real’s six-game winning streak was ended as Wolfsburg picked up their first win in four games since beating Gent in the last 16 of the tournament.

To give the result context, Wolfsburg needed a 93rd minute equaliser to seal a 1-1 draw with relegation-threatened Darmstadt on their last home league appearance.

There was no hint they would bother Real when they crashed 3-0 at Bayer Leverkusen last Friday in Germany's top flight.

But having also beaten Manchester United 3-2 at home in the group stages, Wolfsburg now have the upper hand ahead of Tuesday's return leg at the Bernabeu.

But goal-scorer Arnold insists nothing has been decided yet.

“There is no point getting carried away. We have only finished 55 percent of the job,” he said after his first Champions League goal.

It was a poor performance from Real's star forwards as Gareth Bale was kept quiet and Cristiano Ronaldo rarely shook of his markers.

France forward Karim Benzema went off on 41 minutes after a knock.

Zidane had made just one change -- Danilo in for Dani Carvajal at right-back -- from the ten-man side which beat Barcelona.

Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking gambled by starting inexperienced Brazilian Bruno Henrique on the right wing.

Centre-back Naldo was also rushed back after dislocating his shoulder in February, but both selections were rewarded.

There was little hint of the drama to come as Real needed just 74 seconds to put the ball in the Wolfsburg net.

Ronaldo made a late run and tucked his shot past Diego Benaglio, but the offside flag went up.

The hosts started to find their feet before taking a shock 18th minute lead.

Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi pointed straight to the spot when Real midfielder Casemiro put in a clumsy foul on Wolfsburg striker Andre Schuerrle.

Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas tried to unsettle the taker, but Rodriguez nailed the spot kick.

It was the first Champions League goal Navas had conceded after 738 minutes.

But he soon leaked a second as Wolfsburg’s attack stepped with the Real defence – especially wingbacks Marcelo and Danilo – rattled.

Julian Draxler started a move on the right wing, Henrique picked out Arnold’s run and the attacking midfielder slotted home on 25 minutes.

Ronaldo tried to drag Real back into the match, but both of his shots flew wide of the Wolfsburg goal in the five minutes after the interval.

In a bid to boost the midfield, Zidane brought on Isco for Luka Modric with an hour gone, but the Spain international had to immediately help snuff out a Schuerrle break.

The Germany winger should have made it three when Draxler started a counter-attack with Henrique, but when the ball found him in space, Schuerre blasted just over with 20 minutes to go.

There was plenty of pushing and shoving immediately after as Arnold clashed with Marcelo, which led to both Arnold and Bale being booked.

Ronaldo then got in behind the defence and fired across the empty Wolfsburg goal, but Benzema’s replacement Jese failed to connect as the Germans held on for a famous win.

Meanwhile in France, away goals by Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho handed Manchester City a 2-2 first-leg draw at Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday to give the English side the edge in their Champions League quarterfinal tie.

On a night that will be remembered for some comical defending and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty that was saved by City goalkeeper Joe Hart, the Premier League side twice punished mistakes by their hosts.

De Bruyne put City ahead on 38 minutes, only for Ibrahimovic to level after an embarrassing mix-up in the visitors’ defence soon after.

Adrien Rabiot then put PSG ahead just before the hour, but Fernandinho made it 2-2 on 72 minutes and ensured the French giants will be chasing the tie in next Tuesday’s second leg.

“It was a crazy game and we played our part in a great game of football,” Hart told BT Sport.

“It’s up to us to make the away goals count. We are making history for the club and we don’t want it to end.”

Meanwhile, PSG coach Laurent Blanc admitted his side will have to improve if they are to progress now.

“Two mistakes allowed Man City to score goals that are, as you know, very important away from home. That’s our biggest regret,” he said.

“I think we conceded goals from the only two chances they had but we could have scored three or four ourselves.”

City were appearing at this stage for the first time and were handicapped by the absences of injured captain Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Raheem Sterling.

However, Hart had recovered from injury in time to play and De Bruyne started after making his own comeback from two months on the sidelines at the weekend, giving the English side's attack a fearsome look to it.

PSG, conquerors of Chelsea in the last 16, feared Sergio Aguero the most, though, and the stocky Argentinian striker coaxed a yellow card out of David Luiz inside 20 seconds after getting in behind the Brazilian.

The home support were furious soon after when Serbian referee Milorad Mazic refused to give Paris a penalty after Blaise Matuidi went down in the box under pressure from Eliaquim Mangala, but PSG did win a spot-kick in the 13th minute for a foul by Bacary Sagna on Luiz.

Ibrahimovic stepped up, but was thwarted by Hart, who dived low to his right to make the save.

Perhaps the 34-year-old Swede was feeling the pressure in what could be his last chance to win the Champions League, because he passed up another huge opportunity midway through the first half, blazing over the bar after a Thiago Motta pass had split the away defence.

City made Ibrahimovic pay as they opened the scoring seven minutes before half-time, capitalising on loose play in the Paris midfield.

Fernandinho intercepted a Matuidi pass intended for Rabiot and advanced towards the edge of the box before teeing up De Bruyne, who took a touch and fired past Kevin Trapp.

HORROR MOMENT

However, City inexplicably gifted the French champions an equaliser only three minutes later.

It was a horror moment for Hart and Fernando, with the goalkeeper choosing to play a goal-kick short to the Brazilian-born midfielder on the edge of the area despite Ibrahimovic lurking in close proximity.

Fernando tried to release the ball, but Ibrahimovic stuck out a leg and diverted it into the net for his 39th goal of the season.

PSG came out in the second half with the momentum after that and they took the lead on 59 minutes thanks to one-time City youth player Rabiot.

Edinson Cavani turned a corner towards goal and Hart saved, but the ball fell kindly for Rabiot to tap in.

PSG sensed a chance to increase their advantage before the second leg and a Di Maria cross from the right was headed against the woodwork by Ibrahimovic.

Instead City pounced on some more comical defending to grab a second away goal, Fernandinho gleefully prodding into the net after neither Serge Aurier nor Thiago Silva were able to clear a low ball into the box from the away right.

Those away goals, and the fact PSG will be without the suspended Luiz and Matuidi for the return, could prove crucial.

Pieced together from separate AFP reports.

Source News Express

Posted 07/04/2016 06:03:59 AM

 

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