Monday, February 26, 2024

The Best Champions League Round Of 16 Moments

The Champions League is back. Tuesday sees the knockout stage begin, with the Round of 16 fixtures taking place over the next month.

There is a twist to this season’s round of 16, with many of the Champions League and Europa League first legs taking place at neutral venues.

Here is a trip down memory lane as we look at the most memorable round of 16 moments since the competition’s rebrand in 1992.

Ronaldinho’s Goal vs Chelsea (2005)

Barcelona and Chelsea played each other in four out of five seasons from 2004 to 2009. In those eight games that were played, there were four draws, two Chelsea wins and two Barcelona wins. 21 goals were scored in these eight games and the most famous one came in the 2004-05 Round of 16 clash.

In a spectacular second leg at Stamford Bridge, the game finished 4-2 to Chelsea after a 2-1 win for Barcelona in the first leg at the Nou Camp.

Eiður Guðjohnsen gave Chelsea the lead before Frank Lampard and Damien Duff gave Chelsea a 3-0 lead on the night and a 4-2 lead on aggregate.

Irish winger Damien Duff made it 3-0 Chelsea on the night with less than 20 minutes gone.

Paulo Ferreira gave away a penalty, which was squeezed in by Ronaldinho in the 27th minute. This meant that another Barcelona goal would give them the lead on away goals.

Spanish defender Oleguer Presas’ long ball was headed away by John Terry. The ball was met by midfielder Andrés Iniesta who found the Brazilian at the edge of the box.

It seemed an impossible angle, with Ronaldinho surrounded by numerous Chelsea players. He then shimmied before striking the ball with his outside foot, beating Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech in the bottom left corner.

The best player in the world at the time once again showed why he was considered the best, with a truly memorable goal. A John Terry header in the second half would see Chelsea progress but the goal from Ronaldinho certainly lives in the memory, arguably more than any goal scored by Chelsea scored in that game.

Thierry Henry’s Winner At The Bernabéu (2006)

Thierry Henry will go down as an Arsenal legend for as long as time exists. With 228 goals in 376 appearances, he is undoubtedly the best player to grace the red half of North London.

One of his greatest moments came in 2006, during Arsenal’s run to the Champions League final in Paris against Barcelona. They ultimately lost that final but fans will always remember the journey.

Part of their journey came in the Round of 16 clash against Real Madrid. The first leg came away in Spain at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium has been the home of Real Madrid since 1947.

Shortly after the start of the second half of the season, Cesc Fàbregas, who was a teenager at the time, picked up the ball around the middle of the pitch. He played a short pass to Henry inside the centre circle.

The Frenchman ran with the ball, beating several Real players despite their best attempts to take him down. Henry kept going, beating goalkeeper Iker Casillas and finding the net in the bottom right corner. This finished off a wonderful solo goal by Henry, one that will live in the memory of Arsenal fans forever.

Chelsea’s Comeback Against Napoli (2012)

If any Chelsea fan is asked what the pivotal moment was during the campaign where they won the 2012 Champions League final, most would refer to their second leg 4-1 win against Napoli at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea lost 3-1 away to Napoli in the first leg in Italy, with a double from Ezequiel Lavezzi on either side of an Edinson Cavani goal. These all came after Juan Mata gave Chelsea a 1-0 lead.

Two weeks later and Chelsea had a new manager when the second leg was played after André Villas-Boas was sacked. Former player Roberto Di Matteo stepped in as caretaker manager.

Napoli threatened early on in the second leg, with chances for Cavani and Lavezzi. Chelsea took the lead around the 28th minute with Didier Drogba getting his head on the end of a Ramires cross. With less than three minutes gone in the second half, skipper John Terry headed home at the near post from a Lampard cross to make it 2-0 on the night and which gave Chelsea the lead on away goals.

Drogba after heading home the opener on the night.

Disaster then struck for Chelsea as a Napoli cross was headed away by Terry. Swiss international Gökhan Inler, who would later in his career play five league games in Leicester City’s shock Premier League title-winning campaign, chested the ball down and hit the ball low into the bottom left corner.

Chelsea threatened and threatened but couldn’t break down Napoli until they had a corner in the 73rd minute. Former Liverpool player Andrea Dossena was judged to have handled a Branislav Ivanović header and Lampard converted the penalty.

The game went to extra time and with 104 minutes gone, Chelsea found the goal they needed to secure their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Drogba picked the ball up in the right-hand side of the penalty area and found Ivanović all by himself near the penalty spot. The Serbian full-back hit a powerful shot past the Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis. This sent Chelsea fans and players alike wild as they went into half time with the advantage.

Chelsea had to remember that they still would go out should Napoli score. They held on and went through in what will always go down as a great modern-day Champions League game.

Barcelona 6-1 PSG (2017)

Barcelona has had some great memories over the 21st century, with 10 La Liga’s, 6 Copa del Ray’s and 4 UEFA Champions Leagues since 2004.

Whilst they did not win the Champions League during the 2016/17 season, they will always look back with fondness at their Round of 16 meeting with French side Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG, the new kids on the block, won the first leg in Paris 4-0 thanks to goals from Cavani, Julian Draxler and a double from Ángel Di María. Many thought that Barcelona had no chances of progressing, especially after Cavani scored in the second leg.

During the second leg at Camp Nou, Barcelona stormed to a 3-0 lead on the night. This put the aggregate score at 4-3, meaning that the Catalan side just needed one goal to take the game to extra time.

With exactly 61 minutes on the clock, a free kick by PSG midfielder Marco Verratti in the centre circle was met by the head of left-back Layvin Kurzawa in the penalty box. Cavani hit the ball first time past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, which many felt was the clincher.

Thanks to the away goal, this meant that Barcelona had to score three more goals.

It had reached the 87th minute and no goal had gone in since the Cavani hit. Both Di María and Cavani missed chances to add to PSG’s lead.

Neymar hit an 88th-minute free-kick to give Barcelona fans hope and scored a 91st-minute penalty which made everyone believe.

With 30 seconds remaining, everyone was up for the corner including ter Stegen. Neymar was once again involved, dinking the ball into the box.

The ball went over everyone, leaving full-back Roberto with just the goalkeeper to beat. Roberto found the back of the net to complete one of the greatest comebacks in the competition’s history.

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