Friday, April 8, 2022

Premier League in Europe

Champions League

Atletico Madrid and Manager Diego Simeone did everything possible to smother Manchester City’s attack on Tuesday. A low block defense, often employing a tightly packed 5-5 formation, stifled City’s attempts to penetrate the Spanish wall until the 70th minute. Substitute Phil Foden then expertly threaded the needle to find Kevin De Bruyne who clinically put the ball past Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jon Oblak for the only score in a 1-0 victory for the Citizens at the Etihad. Atletico Madrid’s defensive approach resulted in the Spaniards failing to attempt a single shot during the match. Simeone’s strategy was effective, however, in disrupting City and keeping the tie in the balance as the two sides head to Madrid for the second leg.

Liverpool enjoyed a more comfortable 3-1 over Benfica in Portugal. Luis Diaz scored his first Champions League goal for Liverpool, putting the match out of reach after earlier goals by teammates Ibrahima Konate and Sadio Mane. Liverpool now heads home to Anfield with a two-goal cushion for next week’s second leg.

One downside for the Reds was the continuing scoring drought of Mohamed Salah. The Premier League’s top scorer has now gone scoreless in seven consecutive matches across all competitions and has not scored from open play since February.

Chelsea takes a two-goal deficit to Madrid next week after the Blues fell 3-1 to Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema scored his second consecutive hat trick in Champions League play to put Chelsea’s defense of its European title on life support. Benzema intercepted a poor pass from Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy just moments into the second half to cap his hat trick and effectively kill the match. Kai Havertz scored a first half goal for Chelsea while second half substitute Romelu Lukaku missed a chance which might have provided hope for Manager Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.

Europa League

West Ham survived a first half red card to Aaron Cresswell to draw 1-1 with Lyon at London Stadium in the opening leg of their Europa League tie. The first half stoppage time call against Cresswell, for denying Mouse Dembele a clear goal scoring opportunity, was wildly controversial and earned West Ham Manager David Moyes a yellow card for airing his views to the referee. A wink by Dembele as Cresswell exited the pitch only served to inflame opinion. West Ham responded well to the challenge, however, as Jarrod Bowen put the Hammers ahead in the second half on a deflected goal despite the manning deficit. Tottenham Hotspur loanee Tanguy Ndombele scored the equalizer for the French side which dominated 72% of the possession against undermanned West Ham.

Europa Conference League

Leicester and PSV played to a scoreless result as the two teams managed only a combined three shots on target at King Power Stadium. Leicester’s chance to salvage something from an otherwise disappointing season will thus be decided in the Netherlands next week.

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