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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Champions League: Different Season, Same Old Arsenal


There may be no English team in the last 8 of the UEFA Champions League after Arsenal followed in the footsteps of Manchester City in losing the first leg of their last 16 home match.

Arsenal were stunned 3-1 by visiting French side Monaco, formerly managed by current Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger.

The Ligue 1 side, beaten only once since December, assumed the lead in the 38th minute, Geoffrey Kondogbia finding the back of the net with a long-range strike which deflected off Per Mertesacker. Arsenal failed to register a single shot on target the entire half.

Monaco’s first half goal must have been dismissed as a mere consolation goal. However, Leonardo Jardim’s side had other ideas as 8 minutes after the interval, Dimitar Berbatov doubled their lead after being fed by Antony Martial who’d robbed Mertersacker of possession. The Bulgarian, often a cool customer in front of goal made no mistake slotting past David Ospina to the shock of the home fans and get his first Champions League goal this season.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin curled in beautifully from outside the box to reduce the deficit but he neutralized, perhaps cancelled, his heroic act immediately after.

The Englishman was dispossessed in the build up to Monaco’s third goal which was turned in by Ferreira Carrasco leaving the home fans, bemused while the traveling Monaco team could have dreamt of anything but a 3-1 victory ahead of the return leg clash next month.

With Manchester City beaten 1-2 by Barcelona on Tuesday, Chelsea are the only English team who look like they’ll have a chance of progressing to the last four. However, the Blues are anything but comfortable given their tie against Paris Saint Germain is tipped in the balance, their first leg clash having ended 1-1 in Paris.

In Germany, Hakan Calhanoglu struck in the 57th minute to give Bayer Leverkusen a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the BayArena. Last year’s beaten finalists, Atletico were reduced to 10-men after Tiago was sent off for a second bookable offence but that Leverkusen’s goal was scored long before the Portuguese international received his marching orders.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!