Wolfsburg 2-0 Real Madrid

 Posted by at 6:23 AM
Apr 072016
Wolfsburg are competing in their first Champions League quarter-final

Wolfsburg stunned an out-of-sorts Real Madrid by comfortably beating the Spanish team in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

The hosts were awarded a controversial penalty when Casemiro was deemed to have fouled Andre Schurrle, and Ricardo Rodriguez converted from the spot.

Real were poor defensively and a rapid attack ended with Bruno Henrique setting up Max Arnold for the second.

The visitors created little, but should have been awarded a penalty early on.

Defeat was Real’s first in a Champions League quarter-final since 2004, and leaves the 10-time winners needing a vastly improved performance in the return leg at the Bernabeu next Tuesday.

The Spaniards last overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit in European competition in 1987, when they beat Red Star Belgrade in the quarter-finals of the European Cup.

Remarkable Wolfsburg punish Real

Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking said his players would try to “annoy” Real, and the questionable penalty awarded by referee Gianluca Rocchi would certainly have irked the Spaniards.

But despite the fortuitous circumstances in which they took the lead, the quarter-final debutants deserved their first-leg advantage and could have scored more so awful were Real in defence.

Marcelo and Sergio Ramos, in particular, were to blame for the second goal, which Arnold side-footed home from six yards.

Moments earlier, Arnold had nicked the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo inside his own half and was allowed to surge 60 yards unchallenged before nearly putting Schurrle through.

After the break, Schurrle should have done better when through on goal, while substitute Max Kruse forced a fine save from Keylor Navas in the dying minutes.

Ronaldo fails to shine

Real boss Zinedine Zidane said his team would treat the match “like a final” but his men were a shadow of the side that beat Barcelona in El Clasico at the weekend.

Ronaldo made his 124th Champions League appearance, taking him to joint sixth in the all-time list

Zidane made just one change to the team that ended Barca’s 39-match unbeaten run, yet they could not reproduce Saturday’s performance.

Gareth Bale, playing on the left wing, was their most potent player and should have been awarded a penalty when the score was goalless. Ronaldo – making his 124th Champions League appearance – lacked clout, while Karim Benzema hobbled off early in the first half.

It was not a result many would have predicted beforehand, with Wolfsburg losing 3-0 to Bayer Leverkusen – their third game without a win in the Bundesliga, at the weekend.

Seven points adrift of fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach, they are in danger of missing out on next season’s Champions League if they do not win the competition, yet in Julian Draxler and Schurrle the Germans proved they have players who can shine on such a stage.

Man of the match – Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg)

Once again, the 22-year-old stood out in a Champions League tie. The Germany international covered more than 10km, made three key passes and was even ever-present when needed in defence, tackling and clearing for his team.

The stats you need to know

  • Navas conceded his first goal in the Champions League after 738 minutes of play.
  • Real are 2-0 down in a Champions League game for the first time since April 2014, which was against Borussia Dortmund. That was the last time they lost by two goals in the competition.
  • Wolfsburg have now won five Champions League games in a row, extending their best run in the competition.
  • They have only lost one of their eight Champions League home games – 3-1 to Manchester United in December 2009.

What they said

Real boss Zinedine Zidane: “I’m not happy with how the game went, especially the first half.

“That’s football, that’s how difficult it is. That’s what happens when you don’t play with intensity from the start. We have to rest and think about the return leg because we still have the chance to change everything.”

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale: “We’re only halfway through the tie so we have time to turn it around. I had a clear penalty on me at the start of the game. I got smashed over.

“No excuses – we weren’t good enough. It happens sometimes.”

Wolfsburg boss Dieter Hecking: “I was laughed at when I said that we may have a chance. Real had their opportunities early on and we were a bit lucky.

“We pulled together, we found the spaces and played very well. Now we will go to Madrid, knowing that we have a chance to advance.”

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Apr 072016
Manchester City have never reached the Champions League semi-finals

Fernandinho’s deflected goal earned Manchester City a draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Paris St-Germain.

Kevin de Bruyne’s clinical finish gave City the lead after Joe Hart saved Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty for PSG.

Ibrahimovic capitalised on Fernando’s error to equalise and Adrien Rabiot tapped in after the break to put French champions PSG in front.

Fernandinho’s scuffed effort gave City a potentially vital second away goal.

The second leg takes place at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, 12 April.

Teams who have drawn the first leg 2-2 away from home in European competition have progressed on 220 out of 277 previous occasions.

Listen: ‘If you can’t beat them, join them. Aguero must go down.’

The money men don’t live up to their billing

This fixture was touted as a battle of Europe’s richest clubs, with both sides backed by wealthy Middle-Eastern owners – PSG’s from Qatar and Manchester City’s from the United Arab Emirates.

While the teams have spent a reported £800m between them on players in the past five years, the game, which was entertaining, lacked the quality expected from such blue-chip line-ups.

Fernando’s mistake for PSG’s equaliser was a prime example.

The Brazilian collected the ball from Hart on the edge of his own penalty area and, while trying to flick a pass with the outside of his foot, directed the ball off Ibrahimovic’s boot and into an empty net.

It undid the superb work of Hart to save Ibrahimovic’s penalty low to his right – after David Luiz was tripped by Bacary Sagna – and De Bruyne’s powerful finish from a tight angle following Fernandinho’s surge forward.

Former Chelsea defender Luiz will be banned for the return leg after being shown a yellow card 12 seconds into the game, as will midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

City’s defensive frailties almost costly

This graphic shows Man City striker Sergio Aguero’s touches. The Argentine was isolated throughout, was forced to come deep to receive the ball, and touched it only once in the PSG area

Manuel Pellegrini’s side were fortunate to be in a position to salvage a draw as the fragile defence that has contributed to their disappointing Premier League campaign continued to look unstable.

Their deficiencies without injured captain and centre-back Vincent Kompany have been well documented, and they have now managed only one clean sheet in nine Champions League games this term.

Rabiot, who had a brief spell in the City youth set-up, made the most of non-existent marking to score at the back post after Hart parried Ibrahimovic’s header into his path.

Ibrahimovic had missed a clear chance when through on goal and also headed against the crossbar in the second half.

In the second leg, Pellegrini may want to re-assess the 4-4-2 formation that saw his side press PSG high up the pitch, with left-back Gael Clichy exposed by David Silva’s unfamiliarity with his position on the left of midfield.

But Pellegrini remains in a strong position to secure a Champions League semi-final – and perhaps title – for City, before being replaced by Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola in the summer.

Man of the match – Thiago Silva (PSG)

Thiago Silva (left) was easily the classiest defender, and perhaps player, on the pitch, gaining possession 10 times and making four interceptions

What they said

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini: “A very close game right to the end. The quarter-final continues to be open but this is a good result for us.

“We made a couple of important mistakes for the first goal and the second goal was offside.

“If we want to win, we cannot make those kind of mistakes. But we are trying to win the game from the first minute – it is the way we play.”

What’s next?

Before the return leg, Man City host West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday, the same day PSG travel to Guingamp, having already wrapped up the Ligue 1 title with six more games remaining.

The facts you need to know

  • Joe Hart is the only goalkeeper to save two penalties in the Champions League this season; he has saved each of his past three penalties in the Champions League
  • Hart has saved three of the five penalties he has faced in the Champions League since making his debut (60%), the highest percentage (min five pens) since 2011-12
  • David Luiz was booked after 12 seconds, the quickest yellow card n the Champions League this season and the fastest since 2003-04
  • No Man City player has been involved in more goals this season in all competitions than Kevin de Bruyne (26, level with Sergio Aguero)
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored in five consecutive Champions League games for the third time in his career; he also did it in February 2012 with Milan and February 2014 with PSG
  • Adrien Rabiot has scored in three of his past five Champions League games; he had not scored in his previous 12
  • Fernandinho has scored and assisted a goal in the same game for City for the second time, both coming in the Champions League this season (also against Sevilla in November 2015)
  • PSG have lost only one of their past 39 home games in European competition (W25 D13), against Barcelona in April 2015

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Apr 072016

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A contract signed by Fifa’s new president is named in the Panama Papers, as BBC sports editor Dan Roan reports

The offices of European football’s governing body Uefa have been searched by Swiss police.

It follows the naming of ex-secretary general Gianni Infantino – now president of world governing body Fifa – in papers leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Meanwhile, a Fifa official also named in the papers – Juan Pedro Damiani – is reported to have resigned.

Infantino has denied wrongdoing while Uefa says it is helping police.

While working for Uefa, Infantino co-signed a television rights deal in 2006 with two businessmen who have since been accused by the FBI of bribery.

Cross Trading – owned by Hugo Jinkis and his son, Mariano – bought TV rights for Uefa Champions League football in 2006 for $111,000 (£78,000) and immediately sold them on to Ecuadorian TV broadcaster Teleamazonas for $311,170 (£220,000).

Cross Trading also paid $28,000 (£20,000) for the rights to the Uefa Super Cup, selling those to Teleamazonas for $126,200 (£89,000).

The contract came to light after 11 million documents were leaked from Mossack Fonseca.

A statement from Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said a “co-operative search” took place “for the purpose of securing evidence”.

It said its criminal proceedings were connected to the acquisition of television rights and were “directed against persons unknown, meaning that for the time being, no specific individual is being targeted”.

It added: “The suspicion is based on the result of findings that have emerged from other proceedings, as well as the corresponding financial analyses carried out by the OAG.

“Current publications in the media subsequently revealed still other elements that made it possible to complement the existing findings in a decisive manner.

“The final impetus was provided, in particular, by confirmation on the part of Uefa that it had concluded contracts with Cross Trading SA.”

Uefa initially denied doing business with any of the 14 people who have been indicted by the FBI in its investigation into corruption in world football.

It has now told the BBC the TV rights were sold to the highest bidder in an open and competitive tender process.

It also stressed it has been “conducting a review of its various commercial contracts” following the US indictments in May 2015.

Uefa also backed Infantino, who left the organisation after being elected Fifa president on 26 February, describing him as “an outstanding member of Uefa staff for many years” and “a man who has always acted with complete professionalism and integrity”.

A senior Fifa source has told the BBC the 2006 deal should be examined by the governing body’s ethics committee in the interests of transparency.

There is no evidence to suggest Infantino – then Uefa’s director of legal services – received a bribe relating to the contract with Cross Trading, and no suggestion Teleamazonas was in any way complicit in any wrongdoing.

Cross Trading also has links to Damiani, who has already been placed under internal investigation by Fifa.

On Wednesday, the AFP news agency reported he had resigned from Fifa’s ethics committee.

“We can confirm that Mr Damiani resigned from his position as member of the adjudicatory chamber of the independent ethics committee of Fifa,” panel spokesman Marc Tenbuecken told AFP in an email.

Leaked Panama documents suggest Damiani and his firm provided legal assistance for at least seven offshore companies linked to Eugenio Figueredo, a former Fifa vice-president who was among the 14 people arrested last May in Zurich as part of the US inquiry.

How did we find out about this?

It is down to a leak from the internal files of Mossack Fonseca.

Mossack Fonseca is a Panama-based law firm that specialises in helping the wealthy and powerful set up offshore companies, like Cross Trading.

The documents were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

BBC Panorama and the Guardian newspaper are among 107 media organisations in 78 countries that have been analysing the documents.

Panama Papers – tax havens of the rich and powerful exposed

  • Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have been passed to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.