Liverpool beat Bayern; advance into Champions League
Munich, March 14 (IANS): Sadio Mane had a brace as Liverpool defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 to claim a berth in the Champions League quarterfinals.
The Reds, who lost last year’s final to Real Madrid, became the fourth English side to reach the last eight in the 2018-2019 edition of Europe’s elite club competition, joining Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, reports Efe news.
Germany, meanwhile, will be without any representation in the quarterfinals, as Borussia Dortmund and Schalke likewise went down to defeat at the hands of Premier League teams.
After drawing 0-0 in a hard-fought first leg at Anfield, both the hosts and the visitors eschewed risks in the opening minutes on Wednesday at the Allianz Arena here.
While Bayern had more of the ball, they struggled out to play out from the back. Thiago Alcantara sent a strike wide in the ninth minute and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk prevented Robert Lewandowski from even getting a shot away two minutes later.
Roberto Firmino threatened for the Reds in the 25th minute seconds before Mane opened the scoring.
The Senegal international took a long pass from Van Dijk and made quick work of Rafinha before spinning away from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as he came off his line, leaving the net open for Mane.
Conceding the goal spurred Bayern to open up, leaving more space at the back for Liverpool on the counter and Andrew Robertson forced a stop from Neuer in the 35th minute.
But Bayern pulled level in the 39th thanks to an own goal by Liverpool defender Joel Matip.
The play began with a Niklas Süle free kick that reached Serge Gnabry, whose cross would have found Lewandowski if Matip hadn’t inadvertently redirected the ball past keeper Alisson.
David Alaba’s free kick from distance a few minutes later was easily handled by Alisson before a Lewandowski effort went wide and the first half ended 1-1.
Mo Salah had a chance to put Liverpool ahead five minutes into the second half with a strike on the counter, but Neuer was equal to the occasion.
For the hosts, Lewandowski faltered when Gnabry delivered a fine cross into the area at the hour mark.
Van Dijk put the Reds ahead with 20 minutes left, heading down into the net off a James Milner corner, and Mane sealed the win in the 84th with assists from Salah and late substitute Divock Origi.
Barca hammer Lyon
FC Barcelona recorded a 5-1 victory on aggregate over Lyon in the Champions League round-of-16 action.
After settling for a scoreless draw in last month’s first leg, Barcelona clinched a quarter-final berth in Europe’s premier club competition with a 5-1 win in front of their home fans at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
The Catalans were locked in from the outset against the Ligue 1 side and got on the scoreboard in the 18th minute after Jason Denayer was called for a highly questionable foul on Luis Suarez in the area, reports Efe news.
Lionel Messi stepped up to the 12-yard-mark and opted for a Panenka penalty conversion, lobbing the ball into the middle of the goal as Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes dove out of position to his left.
The situation became more dire for the French club in the 31st minute when Suarez received a pass just outside the area, split two defenders and then passed to an unmarked Philippe Coutinho for a goal into an empty net.
Lopes, who had made several outstanding saves in the February 19 first leg at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France, then was forced to leave the field in the 34th minute after he was injured in a collision with Coutinho.
His replacement, Mathieu Gorgelin, got off to great start by denying Messi in a one-on-one opportunity late in the first half.
He then got some help from a team-mate after the intermission when a chip shot by the Argentine superstar went over the keeper’s head before being cleared away on the goal line by defender Fernando Marcal.
Lyon finally started applying some pressure at the other end of the field in the ensuing minutes and were rewarded when Lucas Tousart took advantage of a poor clearance by Sergio Busquets and sent a right-footed shot inside the near post past a diving Marc-Andre ter Stegen in minute 58.
The goal was allowed to stand after a review by the video assistant referee (VAR).
The visitors briefly looked as if they might score the equalizer, with attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir putting a scare into the home fans with a shot just over the crossbar.
But Messi proved to be the difference yet again, receiving the ball in space on a counter-attack in the 78th minute, leaving a pair of defenders in knots with his uncanny dribbling and firing a shot that tipped off of Gorgelin’s hand and slowly rolled just inside the left upright to make the score 3-1.
He then turned the contest into a rout with a pair of assists on counter-attack plays.
The first came on a cross inside the box past several defenders that Pique turned into a close-range score in the 80th minute and the second on a pass to second-half substitute Ousmane Dembele, who managed to stay onside before curving a right-footed shot past Gorgelin six minutes later.