The quarter-finals of the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League kicked off on Tuesday and the action from the first two legs – two more on the other side of the tie are scheduled for Wednesday – did not disappoint.
Here are three quick recaps of Tuesday’s games:
Manchester City takes a big lead back in Munich
The big clash in the round of 16, between Manchester City and Bayern Munich, could easily have been the final. If the actual final at the end of May is as entertaining as this, neutral fans are in for a treat.
Played in England under a torrential downpour, it was a pulsating back-and-forth affair from the start. Both teams had their chances. Only the hosts capitalized on them. And once Manchester City took the lead through Rodri’s left-footed goal past Bayern goalkeeper Yann Sommer in the 27th minute, City never looked back en route to a decisive 3-0 victory.
In fact, the scoreline could have been even more one-sided. Erling Haaland, who entered the contest having scored 10 goals in his last three outings, squandered a golden first-half chance before iceing the game, and likely the series, by scoring the third of hosts at the end of the second. (Bernardo Silva had doubled the lead for Pep Guardiola’s side minutes earlier.)
Sommer made six saves in total to keep alive Bayern’s slim hopes of progressing, and almost all of them were of the best. None was better than his save in the first half to Sky Blues captain Ilkay Gundogan.
Still, Bayern will need a monumental comeback next Wednesday in Germany to overcome that deficit. Psychologically, it will be almost impossible to recover against a City side who look like they have their best chance yet of finally winning the competition, even with a possible date with Real Madrid looming in the semi-finals.
In Portugal, Inter Milan everything but ends of Benfica to run
Despite having the lowest profile of the four quarter-final matchups, Tuesday’s other game was not far behind. Like City-Bayern, the first half was close, with both teams heading into the dressing rooms level at half-time.
It was all Inter after that. Nicolò Barella opened the scoring for the Italians in the 51st minute with a superb cross from Alessandro Bastoni, and Romelu Lukaku completed the scoring when he made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the last 10 minutes:
As impressive as Benfica have been in the Champions League this season, the Portuguese club will struggle to dig themselves out of that hole next week in Milan. If they can’t, an all-Italian semi-final awaits them next month.
At least one of Wednesday’s games could be closer
Another decisive victory could be on the cards on Wednesday. Playing at home, Real Madrid are overwhelming favorites (-149, according to FOXBet.com) against a Chelsea side that hasn’t won in over a month, sits 11th in the 20-team Premier League and is the manager’s third of the season.
The other contest has much more intrigue. Napoli are all but certain to claim their first Serie A title since 1990, when Diego Maradona headlined the club. That doesn’t mean beating AC Milan over two legs will be easy, not after it was announced on Tuesday that star striker Victor Osimhen will be unavailable due to the adductor injury he suffered last month.
This is unfortunate. But if it increases the chances that both teams still have everything to play for when the return leg kicks off next week, most neutral fans probably won’t care.
Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @By Doug McIntyre.
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