The round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League continued on Wednesday with Real Madrid vs. Ajax and Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund. In total there were six goals scored between the two matches, with one away team thrilled with their result and one home team looking like a lock for the quarterfinals.
Real Madrid got goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio to win in Amsterdam 2-1, allowing the reigning champs to return to Spain with two huge away goals. Real could lose the second leg 1-0 and still advance.
At Wembley Stadium, Tottenham was without two of its best players in Harry Kane and Dele Alli but still took care of Borussia Dortmund 3-0, scoring twice in the final 10 minutes. Heung-min Son, Jan Vertonghen and Fernanrdo Llorente were the scorers for Spurs. Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s action.
Holy Spurs. Who saw that coming?
Without Kane and Alli, Spurs have been able to still get results in the Premier League. But UCL is a different animal, and against the leaders of the Bundesliga, it figured to be tricky. Yet they made it look easy, scoring all three goals in the second half. Dortmund was coming off a blown 3-0 lead in league play against Hoffenheim, and the defense picked up where it left off. Spurs had 15 shots, five of them on frame in a convincing performance.
Son’s opener came off a brilliant finish, with Vertonghen getting the assist. Take a look:
Then it was the defender’s turn to score, sliding home to put away a lovely ball from Serge Aurier:
Without Kane and Alli, logic said it would be tough for this team be able to threaten consistently, but they did just that, producing a surprising scoreline that has them feeling good entering the second leg.
Dortmund fell asleep in the second half
On the road, Dortmund knew it was going to need a goal to feel good about having any chance of coming back, but Hugo Lloris made a couple fine saves to deny them, and Tottenham’s defense generally did a good job closing down on those looking to shoot. Dortmund, meanwhile, did not. Llorente’s goal in the final minutes could have easily been avoided, yet two defenders misread the corner from Christian Eriksen and it found the Spanish striker’s head right in front of goal. Take a look:
Not exactly what you would find in a book on how to defend. Just poor execution from the visitors and now they have a deficit that will be nearly impossible to overcome.
Advantage Real Madrid
Boy, these are a bunch of road warriors. After going to rival Barcelona and drawing in the Copa del Rey semifinals, Los Blancos went across the Spanish capital and dominated Atletico Madrid 3-1 last weekend. And to top that, they go to Amsterdam against a really talented, young Ajax team and get a result that has them feeling great about their chances of advancing. Two away goals gives them a bit of breathing room, knowing they’ll likely be able to score at home. This team is playing with so much confidence right now, and they are now a threat in every competition. Just months ago, it looked like this team didn’t have a shot at winning anything.
Part of the resurgence has been due to Vinicius Junior becoming quite the star so quickly and Karim Benzema showing some of the best form of his career. They combined for the opener, a fantastic one at that, with the Brazilian’s speed and vision setting up the French striker for a great hit:
Real now joins Tottenham as the heavy favorites to move on to the quarterfinals after these well-deserved results from the first leg. The teams will meet again for their respective second legs on March 5, and both matches will be available on fuboTV (Try for free).
Relive Wednesday’s UCL action
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