The UEFA Champions League remains the pinnacle of European entertainment with this season’s competition having already produced a number of classic contests.
Real Madrid’s thrilling second leg against Chelsea on Tuesday evening was the latest chapter in another unforgettable Champions League season, as the Spanish side squeezed through to the semi-finals after a brilliant battle at the Bernabeu.
Occasions like these make you question just why UEFA are so intent on changing the format of a competition that rarely disappoints.
Following a captivating clash between Real Madrid and Chelsea, we’ve picked out five of the best Champions League games so far this season.
Liverpool 3-2 AC Milan – Group Stage
Liverpool’s campaign began with a come from behind win against AC Milan in an Anfield thriller, as the Reds fought back to win a five-goal contest against the Italian giants.
In the first Champions League meeting between the two teams outside of a final, Liverpool took an early lead after Fikayo Tomori deflected Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross into his own net.
Mohamed Salah missed the chance to double the Reds’ advantage after seeing his penalty saved, before the momentum of the game swung as Milan struck twice in quick succession.
Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz scored within seconds of one another to give Milan a half-time lead, but Liverpool roared back after the break to seal all three points.
Salah’s equaliser – after an audacious assist from Divock Origi – brought the sides level again, before Jordan Henderson’s superb strike ensured Liverpool got off to a winning start in Group B.
Manchester City 6-3 RB Leipzig – Group Stage
Manchester City bounced back from their final disappointment last season to thrash RB Leipzig in an enthralling encounter at the Etihad.
The Premier League champions were in ruthless mood to score six times against their Bundesliga visitors, though showed susceptibility defensively as Leipzig hit three goals of their own.
Jack Grealish marked his Champions League debut with a wonderful goal for the home side, with Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez, Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus – in addition to a comical Nordi Madueke own goal – all also on the scoresheet.
Leipzig – who were reduced to 10 men after former City defender Angelino was sent off – continued to attack despite their gaps at the back with Christopher Nkunku hitting a hat-trick for the visitors.
The Frenchman became just the fourth player in Champions League history to score a treble for a losing side.
Young Boys 3-3 Atalanta – Group Stage
Neither Young Boys or Atalanta made it out of the Champions League’s group stage, but the two teams provided a throughly entertaining clash before their early exits.
Their meeting in Switzerland was a game that meant little but provided plenty, a pulsating end-to-end clash in which the momentum continually shifted.
Atalanta twice took the lead before being pegged back by the hosts, before Silvan Hefti’s stunning strike from distance looked to have completed a remarkable comeback win for Young Boys.
There was one final twist in the tale, however, as Luis Muriel – with his very first touch after coming on as a substitute – curled home an 88th-minute free-kick to rescue the Italians a point.
Real Madrid 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain – Last 16
It’s difficult to beat the drama of the Champions League’s knockout rounds and the last-16 meeting between Real Madrid and PSG was a perfect advert for Europe’s elite competition.
Real Madrid had been second-best during a 1-0 first leg loss in Paris, escaping with only a narrow defeat after Thibaut Courtois saved a Lionel Messi penalty at the Parc des Princes.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side then faced a huge challenge after Kylian Mbappe’s first-half goal provided PSG with a deserved two-goal aggregate advantage in the second leg, a goal which had the Ligue 1 side on course to reach the last eight.
The tie transformed within the space of just 17 minutes, however, with Karim Benzema scoring an iconic Champions League hat-trick to complete an exhilarating comeback.
Benzema capitalised on a mistake from Gianluigi Donnarumma to pull a goal back for Real Madrid, before Luka Modric’s pass picked out the forward to slam home a second and level the tie.
Just seconds later Benzema arrived on the edge of the box to guide home his hat-trick goal, leaving PSG shellshocked and extending the Parisian’s wait for a maiden European crown.
Real Madrid 2-3 Chelsea – Quarter-final
Thomas Tuchel had declared Chelsea’s quest to reach the semi-finals as ‘almost impossible’ following a home leg defeat to Real Madrid, though the west Londoners came agonisingly close to completing a classic comeback.
Chelsea were outstanding in a dominant performance at the Bernabeu, with goals from Mason Mount and Antonio Rudiger wiping out the Spanish side’s advantage.
Timo Werner’s composed finish then put the holders ahead on aggregate, but Real responded with substitute Rodrigo turning home Luka Modric’s wonderful pass to bring the teams level again.
As he so often has for Real Madrid in recent seasons, Karim Benzema scored the decisive goal in extra time to send the Spaniards into the semi-finals.
It was a cruel defeat for Chelsea after a breathtaking 120 minutes of Champions League football, the defending champions eventually bowing out having given everything possible in an attempt to turn around the tie.
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