Waving the Flag

With EPL sides now at the business end of their European campaigns; in both the Uefa Champions League and the Uefa Europa League, I take a look at how the teams ‘Waving the Flag’ for the English Premier League, fared at the knockout stages of their respected competitions this week.

City win 8 goal epic!

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Man City made a bit of Champions League history- starring their part, in this highest ever UCL last 16 knockout tie.

In an end to end game, Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for the home side before a rejuvenated Falcao and (the next Thierry Henry!) Kevin Mbappe, put the Ligue 1 leaders 1-2 ahead at the Etihad Stadium.

Sergio Aguero then fortunately found an equaliser as his drilled shot slipped through the fingers of Monaco goalkeeper Subasic.

Then a fabulous goal from former Manchester United striker Falcao put Monaco back in the driving seat with a third away goal!

This match had a host of well taken goals but none more sublime than Falcao’s second.

The Colombian demonstrating great control and strength, muscled his way to cut inside the City box, before brilliantly chipping the ball over the towering Willy Caballero, from 15 yards out – more than making up for his earlier penalty miss, which Caballero saved.

Man City regrouped and fought back however, to emphatically turn the tie back in their favour, as Sergio Aguero brought the game level with a thumping volley.

John Stones then scored from a corner as Guardiola’s side piled on the pressure before Leroy Sane, finished an excellent move started by Aguero, brilliantly orchestrated by David Silva and then Aguero again, who collected Silva’s chipped pass over the Monaco defence, to unselfishly tee up Leroy Sane- to seal the result.

A true Champions League epic, we can’t wait to see more goals in the next leg.

Can they wave the flag into the next round? Yes. 2 goal cushion helps. Will be goals next round but think City will do it.

Arsenal GroundHog Day as they relive 5-1 defeat to Bayern 

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Arsenal fans relieved GroundHog Day in more ways than one, as Arsenal crashed to another 5-1 against the Germans – to match last season’s defeat by the same score line.

This result no doubt leaves Arsenal facing their seventh consecutive exit at the last 16 stage, in Europe’s leading club competition.

Arjen Robben opened the scoring after just 10 minutes with a world class strike from outside the box.

Alexis Sanchez skillfully dispatched his own missed penalty,which saw Arsenal keep the score line respectable at HT. They even had the better of the chances to be leading the game, going into the break.

The early second half injury to Laurent Koscielny however, triggered Arsenal to decimate as Bayern Munich ruthlessly put the game beyond Arsene Wenger’s side with four second half goals from Robert Lewandowski, Thiago Alcantara X 2 and Thomas Müller.

Arsenal were nothing short of woeful after Koscielny’s injury and showed a lack of belief, fight, discipline and leadership. Ultimately though, they lacked the quality, as this tie further proved how far behind The Gooners are to Europe’s elite.

Can they wave the flag into the next round? No. Bayern Munich are far superior. A valiant home victory to close the aggregate score at best.

Ranieri’s last game ends in defeat.

Sevilla dominated this match but Leicester City somehow managed to hold on and rescue a respectable 2-1 defeat in Seville.

Sevilla simply outclassed the Premier League Champions, taking the lead through a great header from Sarabia and then scoring a second through a well worked goal, finished by Carrea.

Though the Spanish side (currently above Barcelona and second in La Liga to Real Madrid) out played the Foxes, they couldn’t find a goal to kill the tie with Kasper Schmeichel saving a penalty among the onslaught.

They may live to rue that fact as Leicester City broke with devastating effect with 12 minutes remaining. Jamie Vardy scored his first goal in the competition, to salvage hope for the Foxes going into the second leg at the King Power Stadium, getting to the ball ahead of the goalkeeper, after good work from Danny Drinkwater on the wing.

The result proved to not be enough however, to save title winning manager Claudio Ranieri the sack; as the board announced earlier tonight, they have parted ways with the Italian – just two weeks since they gave him the dreaded vote of confidence.

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Ultimately their poor form this season, which sees them with one point and no goals scored in the league this calendar year – whilst going out of the FA Cup to Millwall and sitting only a single point above the relegation zone, has cost him dear.

It is sadly, a sign of the times and a sad way to end his tenure.

Great opportunity for the new manager to be an instant hero, if they can pull this one back in the next leg.

Can they wave the flag into the next round? Yes and the away goal really helps. You would have to think Sevilla have too much quality to not go through in this tie but if a new manager can galvanise the team to reproduce last season’s form; and with that important away goal – it’s still excitingly possible!

Spurs OUT

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It was a valiant attempt from 10 men Spurs but they gave AA Gent a huge helping hand, as they crashed out of the Europa League at Wembley.

Losing 1-0 from the first leg, Christian Erikson deservedly gave Tottenham the lead before an Harry Kane own goal and then an early Dele Alli red card for a horror challenge – swung this tie to their Belgium counterparts.

AAGent went 1-2 ahead prior Victor Wanyama scoring an equaliser for Pochettino’s side.

Spurs fielded a strong line up and played the better of the two teams; despite the numerical disadvantage, but couldn’t find a further way past a resilient Gent side – with Wanyama’s goal being their only shot in target in the second half.

It’s all focus now on fighting for a top four finish in the Premier League for Spurs fans.

It may well prove an opportunity missed with a Champions League place guaranteed to the Europa winners.

Can they wave the flag into the next round? No. Spurs fans will hope this exit will aid their league campaign.

Man United may count cost of win

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Manchester United cruised through 4-0 on aggregate against St Etienne as they won 1-0 in France, thanks to a Henrik Mkhitaryan goal.

However, Jóse Mourinho’s decision to select such a strong side in a dead rubber match, may prove to back fire, as both Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick, were withdrawn through injury and may miss this weekend’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton.

Can they wave the flag into the next round? Yes and beyond. Some good sides left in the competition but none Mourinho will fear. Have squad capable of winning the competition.

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