Man City cruise past Gladbach to brink of Champions League last eight
...Mendy's late strike puts Real Madrid in sight of quartersThursday, February 25, 2021
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AFP) — Premier League leaders Manchester City closed in on the Champions League quarter-finals after cruising past Borussia Moenchengladbach with a comfortable 2-0 win in yesterday's Champions League last 16, first-leg tie in Budapest.
A first-half header from Bernardo Silva and a Gabriel Jesus strike in the second extended a winning streak by Pep Guardiola's high-flying side to 19 games in all competitions.
With six changes from the side which started Sunday's win over Arsenal City camped inside the Gladbach half for most of the game, moved to Hungary due to Germany's COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Although clear favourites City took time to break down a stubborn German defence however, often foiled by the interceptions of Algeria left-back Ramy Bensebaini.
Debutants in the Champions League knockout stages, a nervy Gladbach had been urged by Coach Marco Rose to be brave against Guardiola's side.
Although France's Alassane Plea was almost through on goal on 20 minutes after a rare counterattack, deep-lying Gladbach succumbed to the mounting pressure in the 29th minute.
A sublime inch-perfect cross by Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo curled over the defence from the left to reach his compatriot Silva who flicked a close-range header past Yann Sommer.
The 26-year-old Cancelo, impressive throughout, nearly doubled the lead five minutes from the break but his shot from just outside the box pinged over the bar.
Early in the second half Jesus should have converted after latching on to a poorly judged backpass by Bensebaini but saw his shot blocked by Swiss defender Nico Elvedi.
Apart from a lunging backheel from Plea that flashed just wide of Ederson's far post on the hour mark, City comfortably contained the Germans, and went two up in the 65th minute.
Another majestic cross-field pass by Cancelo again found Silva who this time headed back across the goalmouth for Jesus to fire home and seal City's 19th-successive victory.
The loss in the Puskas Arena leaves Gladbach, who managed just one shot on target throughout the game, needing a near miracle in the return leg scheduled for March 16 in Manchester.
Menahile in Bergamo, Italy, Ferland Mendy scored late as Real Madrid beat 10-man Atalanta 1-0 on to close in on the Champions League quarter-finals.
The French left back's strike in Bergamo came four minutes from time in a last-16 first-leg game which the hosts played a man down for over 70 minutes as Zinedine Zidane's side hold the advantage heading into the second leg in Madrid on March 16.
Atalanta had attacked early but the game was transformed when Swiss midfielder Remo Freuler was harshly send off on 17 minutes for tripping Mendy at the edge of the penalty area.
Gian Piero Gasperini's woes continued with forward Duvan Zapata limping off after half an hour with a muscular problem with midfielder Mario Pasalic coming off the bench.
Spanish midfielder Isco got a rare start up front for injury-hit Real Madrid playing alongside Marco Asensio and Vinicius.
The 13-time European champions were without striker Karim Benzema due to an ankle problem with an injury list also including Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal.
But Zidane's side failed to make the most of the extra man despite coming closest to breaking through in the first half with a Casemiro header, with Nacho, Isco and Vinícius Junior also threatening and Luka Modric sending over the goal.
Zapata and in-form Luis Muriel lead the Atalanta attack in their first meeting with Real Madrid.
Atalanta continued to attack, with Muriel missing a chance to give the hosts the advantage four minutes before the break with a long-range strike that went just wide.
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