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Champions League | Real Madrid snatch draw to qualify for quarters; Man City go through with easy win

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior celebrates with Jude Bellingham after scoring his side’s opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 second leg match against RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, on March 6, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

Real Madrid withstood an onslaught from RB Leipzig to secure a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie that sent them through to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 aggregate victory on Wednesday.

RB Leipzig were arguably the better side and missed several gilt-edged chances. But Real Madrid increased the tempo in the second half and ultimately did enough to seal their place in the last eight.

Bidding for a record-extending 15th Champions League title, Real took the lead thanks to a Vinicius Jr strike from a counter attack in the 65th minute. But Leipzig’s Willi Orban levelled the score three minutes later with a header to set up a tense final few minutes that included a strike that hit the crossbar by Dani Olmo.

Even though Real have a formidable record in Europe, having been knocked out in the round of 16 only twice in the past 14 years while winning the title five times during that period, Carlo Ancelotti’s team began rather cagily. Leipzig kept threatening to score, with Orban missing twice in the second half after shooting wide.

In the second half, Rodrygo replaced Eduardo Camavinga and suddenly Real were playing with more purpose. Real appeared to have put the tie to bed when Toni Kroos stole the ball and fed Jude Bellingham at the halfway line, who took the ball up the Leipzig box.

He slipped a pass to Vinicius, who had cut in from the left into the centre circle before rifling a shot into the left-hand corner. That goal only seemed to fire up Leipzig, who equalised within three minutes when Orban got in front of Nacho to score with a stooping header from a cross by David Raum.

In a final 20 minutes in which several yellow cards were handed out, Real were playing with fire and were under repeated pressure in their own box with goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, who had already saved Real in the first leg, forced to make several crucial saves. Leipzig almost took the game to extra time when Dani Olmo saw his shot ricochet off the bar in added time. Ultimately, Real did just enough to qualify for yet another quarterfinal.

Man City beat Copenhagen 3-1

Holders Manchester City cruised into the quarterfinals with a 3-1 victory over FC Copenhagen, a 10th consecutive win in the competition that wrapped up a 6-2 aggregate triumph.

City, who started the game with a two-goal cushion, took care of business early with first-half goals by Manuel Akanji, Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland. Akanji scored with City’s first chance, volleying in Alvarez’s corner in the fifth minute.

Alvarez scored his own four minutes later, thanks to calamitous goalkeeping by Kamil Grabara, who let the City forward’s shot slip through his hands seconds after Rodri pinged an effort off the crossbar.

Former Southampton player Mohamed Elyounoussi pulled one back for the Danish champions in the 29th minute but City’s goal-scoring machine Haaland slotted home a low, hard shot through two defenders seconds before halftime, his 29th goal of the season across all competitions.

City will find out their quarterfinal opponents in the draw on March 15. City have reached the quarterfinals for the seventh straight season.

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