Friday, April 15, 2022

Premier League in Europe

Champions League

Manchester City and Liverpool could be headed for yet another matchup as the two clubs advanced this week to the semifinals of the Champions League. Manchester City will face Real Madrid on their side of the draw after the Citizens held Atletico Madrid to a bruising 0-0 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano. City’s goal in the first leg at home, an impressive collaboration between Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne, held up over the course of a hard-fought battle Wednesday which deteriorated into thuggery in its late stages.

After Foden was violently fouled by Atletico’s Felipe, former Manchester City player Stefan Savic tried to drag the prone Englishman from the pitch. In the ensuing melee Savic both pulled Jack Grealish’s hair and head-butted Raheem Sterling. Police separated the two teams in the tunnel following the game. Manchester City emerged from the chaos to put Manager Pep Guardiola into his ninth Champions League semifinal, breaking a deadlock with Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho for the most appearances by a manager.

Ancelotti will be facing Guardiola in the semifinal after Real Madrid eliminated Chelsea in a classic quarterfinal. Chelsea overcame a 3-1 defeat in the first leg to sprint to a 3-0 advantage in Madrid on goals by Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner. Werner’s 75th minute goal appeared to complete a historic comeback only for Real Madrid’s Luka Modric to unleash a piece of magic five minutes later with a lofted pass to Rodrigo who converted to put the tie into extra time. Karim Benzema put Real Madrid through to the semifinals with his extra time goal, his seventh in his last three Champions League appearances. The brilliance of Benzema and Modric eclipsed Chelsea’s valiant defense of its title as Real Madrid now moves on to face Manchester City in pursuit of a 14th Champions League title.

Liverpool has reached the Champions League semifinal for a twelfth time, equaling the mark of Manchester United for most appearances by an English club. Liverpool maintained a two goal first leg advantage in its tie with Benfica as the Reds drew 3-3 at Anfield. Bobby Firmino had a brace for the Reds in an entertaining match which saw Benfica erase three different Liverpool leads. Suspect defending by the Premier League club could be a risk in the remaining rounds of the competition, starting with a semifinal pairing with surprising Villareal.

Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery is once again proving himself expert in cup competitions as he directed Villareal to an upset of Bayern Munich in their quarterfinal match. Emery has won the Europa League on four separate occasions and is now proving his mettle in the Champions League by defeating the German giant.

The first legs of the two Champions League semifinals take place on April 26th and 27th.

Europa League

West Ham advanced to the Europa League semifinal with a 3-0 walkover at Lyon. The two sides had been knotted at a goal apiece after a first leg in London which saw West Ham play much of the match with only 10 men. The fully staffed Hammers had an easier time in France as Lyon had no response after West Ham went up 3-0 at the 48-minute mark on a goal by Jarrod Bowen. Manager David Moyes’s side now moves on to face a coincidental foe in the semifinal. Eintracht Frankfurt, conquerors of Barcelona on Thursday, will face the Hammers in a rematch of the 1976 European Cup Winners’ Cup, the last European semifinal in which West Ham appeared. The German squad eliminated Barcelona from the competition on Thursday.

Europa Conference League

Leicester advanced to the semifinals of the Europa Conference League with a come from behind 2-1 win over PSV. Down a goal late in the second half, Leicester pulled even on a James Maddison goal assisted by Ayoze Perez. The Foxes’ Ricardo Perriera then ended PSV’s 15 match unbeaten run across all competitions with his 88th minute winner. Leicester will be playing in the club’s first ever European semifinal just a year after capturing their first FA Cup title.

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