Group stage action continues in the Champions League
It’s the second to last spell of the group stages and the stakes are still pretty high. Most groups remain undecided and spots are still up for grabs. Every self-respecting footie lover should have seen the action live. But if not, don’t fret; we bring you two of the most exciting clashes.
First up was Dortmund playing hosts to Tottenham. Fresh off their near miraculous win over Real, the Spurs were favorites here, but no one was writing Dortmund off just yet. They have been past the group stages many times, but aren’t having the best of seasons. The game kicks off very evenly; both sides seem to have attack on their minds. Dortmund have the first real chance of the game at the 13th minute mark. Followed by a fantastic play by Yarmolenko almost resulting in a 1-0 lead for Dortmund. The way things are going, Dortmund are bound to get ahead any minute now. And that minute is the 31st one as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang makes no mistake upon receiving Yarmolenko’s superb pass. 1-0 DORTMUND!
Spurs are trying their best to get back in before the half is up and they’re looking good. But Dortmund seem adamant to keep their lead, as is demonstrated by Burki’s phenomenal save of the Dier header. Half time, and the first half has been nothing short of exhilarating. Spurs have looked on top of the game and everyone’s ready to see them level up when the second half gets underway. And it takes them all of three minutes to meet everyone’s expectations. Harry Kane finds the back of the net for the 14th time this season, drilling past two defenders that do nothing to slow him down. 1-1 SPURS!
Dortmund are trying to get back on top now. But they are being met with an on-form Spurs team at every step. They dance around each other for a little over a half hour before the visitors are at it again. Real’s undoing, Alli single handedly (or footedly) battles two defenders on the left before passing to Son, who finishes it with ease. 1-2 SPURS!
And that is that! Spurs are through to the round of 16, as group toppers no less. And Dortmund have the final nail in the coffin of their qualifying hopes. Tottenham, at this stage, are unstoppable!
Day two of the action is Thursday. And Basel play host to Group A leaders Manchester United. Basel need a good result today to keep their qualifying hopes alive. But that will be no mean feat, even with the home advantage, with a ManU team regaining its strength in numbers. The game gets underway and Paul Pogba, despite predictions to the opposite, starts. ManU start strong, creating chances early on. Pogba, Lukaku, Martial , Fellaini everyone seems eager to prove themselves, such is the quality of the ManU lineup. The 16th minute sees Fellaini flick one of his infamous headers inches wide, received from a decent Blind free kick. ManU have Basel exactly where they want them, tied up in their own half. And Basel are panicking because it is just one free kick conceded after the other. None of them are converted into a goal however, but it only appears to be a matter of time. The half is almost up when another one of Fellaini’s attempts comes off the post. How are United not ahead already?! And Martial runs up from a long way off pushing off two defenders on his own the very next minute, only to be dispossessed by Vaclik. And the next minute sees freshly back into the team Marcus Rojo, shoot a superb shot, only to be denied by the bar again! And finally it’s half time. Basel can finally catch their breath and try to come up with some way to prevent a ManU slaughter. ManU on the other hand, need to try and not hit the bar in the back half of the game.
The second minute into second half sees both teams creating chances at either ends of the field. Past the 60th minute mark and Basel are finding their feet. They create an all important chance that, surprise surprise, comes off the United bar. Basel try to do things the easy way in the 70th minute with Steffen theatrically going to ground under a challenge from Rojo. The referees take their time and eventually come to the right decision of not awarding the penalty (I am not at all biased in United’s favor. Glad you can tell). 74th minute and Zlatan is on the pitch, in a game that should be titled “Return of the United elite forces”. But so far, the score line is in no way indicating the impressiveness of the ManU playing 11. We’re into the dying minutes of the game, and it’s do or die for Basel. And apparently, they didn’t come to die tonight. A trickling pass into the United area is found by Michael Lang who beats Blind to hammer it home. 1-0 BASEL!
Basel have fought United tooth and nail this half and now have the goal they deserve. And with that it’s full time. Basel still have a shot at the round of 16. ManU’s spot at the top remains so far unchallenged despite tonight’s upset. All in all the spectators have been taken on a hell of a ride, witnessing United’s best and Basel’s incredible display of heart and rigor. Promising for United is the return of their A-Team. Are they now finally on the path to reclaiming the Unstoppables title? We sure hope so.