Our Champions League awards honour the best – and worst – of the midweek European action as the competition’s quarter-final line up was confirmed.
Moment of the Week
Where else to start but the record-breaking Erling Haaland?
Haaland’s arrival at Manchester City last summer was designed to end the club’s wait for elusive Champions League success and the forward produced his most devastating performance to date to book his side’s place in the quarter-finals.
City’s tie with RB Leipzig was finely poised after a first leg draw in Germany, but the return proved a one-sided affair as Haaland ran riot to become just the third player to score FIVE goals in a Champions League fixture.
The only two players to score FIVE goals in a KO Champions League match 🤝 pic.twitter.com/HuDt3BHwSs
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) March 14, 2023
A first-half hat-trick was followed with two more after the interval, as City equalled their biggest ever win in this competition with a 7-0 thrashing of their blitzed Bundesliga opponents. It was a freakish performance from a forward who has often looked superhuman at the Etihad this season.
Player of the Week
An easy and obvious selection, here.
Erling Haaland put on a masterclass of centre-forward poaching at the Etihad, improving his remarkable record this season to 39 goals in all competitions. It’s already a club-record total in a single campaign for Manchester City, reached in mid-March on the back of a season that has already included FIVE hat-tricks.
This was perhaps the most ruthless performance of the lot, the sort of showing that will have City fans believing that this is the team to end their Champions League wait. On the biggest nights in this tournament, an ability to take chances at crucial times defines games. No player in Europe currently does that better than Erling Haaland.
Totally mesmerising! 🤯
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 15, 2023
Goal of the Week
Haaland’s haul might have dominated the headlines at the Etihad, but a sensational performance from Kevin De Bruyne will have been just as welcomed.
Despite leading the Premier League for assists this season, there has been a sense that the midfielder has not been operating at his best levels of late. De Bruyne sent an emphatic statement to his critics against Leipzig, with a performance full of invention and creative quality.
He put the gloss on City’s seven-goal win with a stunning strike from the edge of the area.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 14, 2023
Save of the Week
Liverpool exited the Champions League after a 1-0 defeat at Real Madrid, failing to lay a glove on the European champions at the Bernabeu.
The Reds had Alisson to thank for keeping them in the game, with the Brazilian the sole positive from an otherwise disappointing display in the Spanish capital. Alisson made a number of impressive stops, including a point-blank reaction to keep out Vinicius Junior’s close range effort.
— Ben Webb (@BenWebbLFC) March 15, 2023
The best of the lot came from Eduardo Camavinga however, as the 30-year-old got a glove to the midfielder’s strike to tip it onto the crossbar. In what has been a poor season from Jurgen Klopp’s side, the goalkeeper has been their finest performer.
Stat of the Week
Jurgen Klopp must be sick of the sight of Spanish sides in European competition…
6 – Under Jürgen Klopp, all six of Liverpool’s eliminations from major European competitions have come against Spanish clubs (Sevilla x1, Atlético Madrid x1 and Real Madrid x4). Adios. pic.twitter.com/SaTvkucSvC
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 15, 2023
There was better news for Italian clubs however, who are celebrating a hat-trick of quarter-finalists for the first time in 17 years.
A renaissance for Serie A?
Three Italian clubs are in the UCL quarterfinals for the first time since the 2005-06 season 🤩
Is Serie A back? 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ls07dZjael
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 16, 2023
Quote of the Week
Victor Osimhen’s reputation continues to soar and the Nigerian stole the show as Napoli eased past Eintracht Frankfurt to reach the last eight.
Osimhen’s brace – which included an outrageous leap and header – took his haul to 23 goals in all competitions this season and led to a huge comparison from ex-Rangers legend Ally McCoist.
“Osimhen is the real deal!” 🔥🔥
“The nearest I’ve seen to Drogba in a long time. Best header I’ve seen in 5 years!” ⭐️
Ally McCoist is a huge Victor Osimhen fan! pic.twitter.com/yHGzaf1soS
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) March 16, 2023
McCoist lavished praise on Osimhen and believes the 24-year-old is the nearest forward he has seen to Didier Drogba. Chelsea are among the clubs reportedly considering a move for the free-scoring forward.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man 💥
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 15, 2023
Donkey of the Week
No shortage of candidates from RB Leipzig, who capitulated during a chastening evening at the Etihad.
Leipzig were hit for seven without reply at Manchester City, an embarrassing exit from Europe for a side who will have arrived in England with optimism of an upset.
Better will have been expected from Josko Gvardiol, who alongside his teammates struggled to cope with the pace and power of Erling Haaland.
Josko Gvardiol did not make a single tackle or interception vs Manchester City.
Not the best interview in front of potential future employers. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/1ifrVuUf73
— Squawka (@Squawka) March 14, 2023
The Croatia international – linked with a big-money move to Europe’s top clubs, with City understood to be on his list of admirers – failed to make a single tackle or interception as the hosts poured forward. A tough lesson learnt for one of the continent’s most promising centre-backs.