Champion League

Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg: 5 Standout Performers

After two nights of breathless drama, we have our four semi-finalists of the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League campaign. On Tuesday (April 16), Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) picked up a valiant 4-1 win over 10-man Barcelona, securing their place in the final four with a 6-4 aggregate scoreline. At the same time, in Germany, Borussia Dortmund were mounting a heroic comeback against another La Liga side, Atletico Madrid. After suffering a 2-1 defeat in the first leg, Dortmund bounced back with aplomb in the return leg, securing a 4-2 victory and setting up a juicy semi-final with PSG.

On Wednesday, Arsenal traveled to Bayern Munich to clinch a spot in the last four. The Gunners held the Bavarians to a 2-2 draw in the first leg at the Emirates Stadium last week but could not keep up in the reverse leg, suffering a 1-0 defeat at the Allianz Arena. Real Madrid were the last team to join the semi-finals, as they had to go all the way to penalties to seal their victory. After a 3-3 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium last week, Madrid and City were locked at 1-1 at the end of extra time at the Etihad Stadium. Penalties commenced to find the winner, where Los Blancos showed their mettle, securing a 4-3 victory.

We witnessed quite a few memorable performances over the last four games and, today, we will tip our hats to the five standout performers. Continue reading to check out the five superstars who shone the brightest in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

#5 Marcel Sabitzer (Borussia Dortmund)

Marcel Sabitzer Was One Of The Best Performers Of Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg
Marcel Sabitzer Scored Once And Claimed 2 Assists Against Atletico Madrid

With Atletico Madrid determined to protect their 2-1 first-leg advantage, Borussia Dortmund needed to make the most of every opportunity that fell their way in the second leg. In the third minute, Marcel Sabitzer got a golden chance to restore parity in the tie. But much to the home fans’ dismay, he took his sweet time to pull the trigger, allowing Cesar Azpilicueta to block his effort.

After squandering the early opportunity, Sabitzer became hungrier to make an impact, and in the end, he managed to achieve what he set out to. Five minutes after Julian Brandt fired Dortmund in front, Sabitzer set up Ian Maatsen for the second goal of the night. A Mats Hummels own goal and Angel Correa’s strike restored Atletico’s cushion on aggregate, but the former Manchester United midfielder ensured their lead did not last long.

In the 71st minute, he delivered a peach of a cross into the Atletico box, allowing Niclas Fullkrug to guide it home. Three minutes later, Sabitzer scored the tie-deciding goal, beating Jan Oblak with a low drive from the edge of the area. Talk about a redemption arc!

#4 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Kevin De Bruyne Was One Of The Best Players Of Champions League Quarter-Final Second Leg
Kevin De Bruyne Is Premier League’s Highest-Paid Player

After sitting out the first leg at Real Madrid due to illness, Kevin De Bruyne waltzed into Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City XI for the return leg at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. The Belgian took a while to find his footing but, once he did, he did not switch off. De Bruyne kept the ball moving, combined effortlessly with teammates, tested a goalkeeper a couple of times, created chances, and scored Manchester City’s only goal of the night in the 76th minute.

Latching on to Jeremy Doku’s low cross from the left, the Belgian applied a thumping finish from the near post, comprehensively beating Andriy Lunin and finding the roof of the Real Madrid goal. Before coming off in the 112th minute, De Bruyne created two chances, played seven passes into the final third, completed three crosses, and pulled off two dribbles.

#3 Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Joshua Kimmich Was One Of The Best Performers Of UCL Quarter-Finals Second Leg
Joshua Kimmich Was Sensational Against Arsenal

One of the most versatile players in the world, Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich delivered a masterclass in the 1-0 win over Arsenal in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash. Operating as a right-back, Kimmich dashed down the flank every chance he got, created goalscoring opportunities on cue, rarely gave the ball away, and, of course, bagged the tie-winning goal in the 63rd minute.

Leroy Sane spearheaded a Bayern Munich counter-attack before finding Raphael Guerreiro with a chip. The ex-Borussia Dortmund man swung in an inviting cross into the Arsenal box, allowing Kimmich to thump it home from close range. The brilliant goal aside, Kimmich created a game-high four chances, completed 56 passes with 93% accuracy, and delivered two accurate crosses. He also won both of his tackles, made three recoveries, and came out on top in four ground duels.

#2 Andriy Lunin (Real Madrid)

Andriy Lunin Was One Of The Best Performers In UCL Quarterfinal 2nd Leg
Andriy Lunin Made 8 Saves Against Manchester City

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti asked his team to defend deep in the crucial UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg at Manchester City. Inviting pressure from arguably the best attacking unit in the world meant it was going to be a busy night for goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. To the outfield players’ credit, they did an excellent job at shielding the goalkeeper, not allowing City to get their shots away with ease. When they did fail, Lunin was there to frustrate the European champions. Over the course of 120 minutes, Lunin made eight saves against Manchester City, only getting beaten once.

Following his heroics over 120 minutes, the Ukrainian shot-stopper emerged as Real Madrid’s messiah in the penalty shootout, denying Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic from the spot. After Luka Modric missed his kick, Jude Bellingham, Nacho Fernandez, Lucas Vazquez, and Antonio Rudiger tucked theirs away to secure a 4-3 win on penalties.

#1 Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Kylian Mbappe Has 15 Knockout Away Goals In The Champions League
Kylian Mbappe’s Brace Helped PSG Beat Barcelona

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) talisman Kylian Mbappe got a lot of flak for not living up to expectations in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona. The Frenchman rarely threatened the Barca backline, as the visitors claimed a 3-2 victory at the Parc des Princes last week.

On Tuesday, Mbappe made amends, scoring a brilliant brace in the second half of the second leg to fire PSG to a 4-1 victory over the Catalans. The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner scored his first goal from the penalty spot in the 61st minute after Joao Cancelo brought down Ousmane Dembele inside the area. Cool as ever, Mbappe sent his effort into the top-left corner, giving PSG a 5-4 aggregate lead. The Real Madrid-bound attacker did not rest on his laurels after scoring PSG’s third and eventually got the insurance goal in the 89th minute.

After Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied Mbappe and Marco Asensio in quick succession, Jules Kounde tried to hoof the ball out of harm’s way. However, the Frenchman’s clearance lacked direction and went straight to Mbappe, who tapped it in from close range. The 25-year-old also created two chances, completed two dribbles, and won two ground duels against the Blaugrana.



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