Champions League Round-Up: Paris Saint-Germain triumph 2-1 over English side Chelsea, Ronaldo and Real Madrid soundly defeat Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.
PSG 2-1 Chelsea:
Both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani scored as the hosts picked up a big first-leg winner over Chelsea and set up a sure to be close contest in the second leg. The Parisian side got on the score sheet first through a deflected Ibra free kick. Even though John Obi Mikel would equalize and secure an important away goal for Chelsea, a late Cavani goal gave PSG the victory.
PSG and Chelsea have had drastically different performances in their league campaigns so far. The Parisians have completely blown away Ligue one and are essentially guaranteed first place. Sitting at the top of the table with 73 points, their nearest competitors, AS Monaco, are sitting at only 49 points. Their cruise in the French Ligue 1 may come to haunt them in their Champions League performances as complacency might start to creep in on the side that is not worried about league results.
Meanwhile, Chelsea has had a tumultuous title defense of the Premier League this season. The London side collapsed during the first half of the season under controversial manager Jose Mourinho. After a dismal run, which saw Chelsea fall almost into relegation zone, the Portuguese manager was fired and replaced by Dutch national team coach Guus Hiddink. Since then, Chelsea has stormed up the league table with 11 straight games without a loss. Although they are still in mid-table, they have stabilized their season and currently sit less than 10 points behind fifth place Manchester United.
The match started with the away side getting the first good look of the match. Controversial striker Diego Costa had a header deflected by goalkeeper Kevin Trapp on to the crossbar and past the net. Despite this, the hosts would grab the first goal of the match. Swedish striker Ibrahimovic converted a free-kick off of the wall and into the net. Chelsea would even things up off a corner kick late in the first-half. Midfielder Mikel scored off a point blank shot to grab a crucial away goal that could give Chelsea a big advantage in the second leg. The hosts managed to save the match by scoring late through Cavani, but they will certainly have to score at Stamford Bridge to secure a ticket to the quarterfinals.
Roma 0-2 Real Madrid:
Cristiano Ronaldo led the Spanish side to a strong away victory over Roma. He would score a stunner from outside the box to give his team the lead in the second half while Jese heaped more misery at the Stadio Olimpico and secured the victory.
Roma has had a mixed 2015-16 Serie A campaign. After starting strong, they have stuttered and slipped down to fourth place in the table. It appeared as if this was their year to finally win a Serie A title since the early 2000’s with defending champions Juventus struggling to find their form. This resulted in the firing of outspoken manager Rudi Garcia, who was replaced by Luciano Spalletti. He has turned things around somewhat for the Roman side, but they need a strong run of form to catch up with Juventus and Napoli at the top of the table. Meanwhile, Real Madrid has had a solid season, but still trails Barcelona in the league table. They currently are sitting in third place in La Liga and are nine points away from the 2015 Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey winners. The expectations are always astronomically high in the Spanish capital and the pressure is clearly on for them to perform.
The match opened up with a speculative effort from Real defender Marcelo Vieira. The Brazilian ripped a long range volley from a Ronaldo cross that just went wide. Roma would also come close in the second half when January signing and ex-Milan forward Stephan El-Shaarawy had a one-on-one with Keylor Navas, who got to the ball before the Egyptian forward could. Ronaldo would finally break the deadlock in the 57th minute when the star player ripped a ferocious curler inside the box that deflected off a Roma player and went into the back of the net. Jese then scored in the 86th minute to secure the victory and two important away goals, leaving the Madrid side with a comfortable position for the second leg.