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Real Madrid, Liverpool cruise into UCL quarter final

Real Madrid, Liverpool cruise into UCL quarter final
March 06
23:49 2018
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Cristiano Ronaldo scored in a record-equaling ninth consecutive UCL game to lead Real Madrid to a 2-1 victory over ten-man PSG at the Parc de Princes stadium in France.

Real Madrid made four changes to the team which won the first leg 3-1, surprise starts for wonderkid Marco Asensio,  Lucas Vasquez and Mateo Kovacic, while Dani Carvajal returned from suspension to slot in at his right back position.

Paris Saint-Germain, without talisman Neymar Jnr. who’ll miss the rest of the season, turned to former Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria as his replacement, while experienced heads Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta were preferred in central defence and defensive midfield respectively.

It was a scrappy opening to the game with offsides and mistakes galore, Real Madrid more guilty but PSG couldn’t capitalize. Yuri failed to intercept a cross-field Asensio pass and Ronaldo set up Benzema but his shot was charged down.

The first real chance was however Real’s in the 18th minute, a short corner was worked to Sergio Ramos and his first time effort required a good save from ‘keeper Areola and PSG cleared.

Thirty minutes into the first half and there was no other shot on target for either side, Zidane’s men content with slowing down PSG’s attacks while trying to launch counters of their own.

Madrid got the next shot on target in the 38th minute, Marcelo’s diagonal ball from the back caught PSG’s defence off guard and freed Benzema but the out-of-sorts striker’s tame shot was deflected behind by Areola. This spurred Le Parisiens into action and Di Maria’s cross-cum-shot was saved Keylor Navas. Their first clear chance however came in the 42nd minute, the lively Mbappe evaded Madrid’s offside trap but his low shot was well saved by Navas for the last effort of the half.

Ronaldo almost put the Galacticos in front in the 50th minute, his diving header missed the bottom corner from Marcelo’s cross. The Champions League’s record goalscorer could not be denied a minute later.

Marco Asensio stole possession from Dani Alves and found Vasquez who stood the ball up at the back post for the Portuguese captain to nod in his 12th goal in this season’s competition and put Madrid 4-1 up on aggregate.

PSG had two chances in quick succession, Casemiro and Ramos both carrying out their defensive duties efficiently. Card-prone PSG anchorman Marco Verratti, however, got his marching order in the 65th minute. The Italian international charged at the referee for not getting a decision from a fair challenge, earning him his second yellow card and a dismissal.

Asensio struck the post afterwards but PSG equalized in the 71st minute. Real’s defence is not known for clean sheets and Thiago Silva’s header needed a double ricochet off Casemiro and Cavani’s knee to level the score on the night.

Real Madrid upped the tempo afterwards but Benzema went for glory on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Ronaldo to his side, the Frenchman blazing high and wide. Gareth Bale replaced Benzema and the defending Champions regained the lead on 80 minutes. Ronaldo led another counter, played Vasquez in and the Spaniard’s cut-back was half-cleared to Casemiro whose shot was deflected in by Marquinhos, wrongfooting Areola.

Chances continued to pour in for Madrid, Vasquez hit the base of the post, Ronaldo’s swerving shot also brushed the post, Isco, Bale and Ramos all trying their luck as Madrid won the game 2-1 and advance to the quarter final 5-2 on aggregate.

In England, Liverpool played an entertaining 0-0 draw with Porto, the Portuguese team’s veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas in inspired form to deny Jurgen Klopp’s much-changed team, the Merseyside club booking their place in the quarter finals with a 5-0 aggregate scoreline.

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