Cristiano Ronaldo: Mr. Champions League

By Mariano López V.

One more day at the office. In the midst of a difficult week for Manchester United, in which Ole Gunnar Solksjaer – now a former ‘Red Devils’ coach – was dismissed and the club’s sporting future became uncertain, Cristiano Ronaldo it was decisive again. For the fifteenth time in the Portuguese career, his victim was Villarreal. A duel that had all the ingredients ready to finish 0-0 was unblocked by the ‘Commander’, who took advantage of a bad start from the local team to define the ‘hat’ and lead United to the round of 16. By the way, and as usual, break another record: being the only player to convert in the first five days of a Champions League campaign for an English club.

Already in the discounts (90 + 1 ′), Jadon Sancho sentenced the game after a collective move that began at the feet of Ronaldo himself. The final 2-0 reaffirmed a devastating statistic against the ‘Yellow Submarine’, since in 12 matches for Champions, they have never been able to beat an English rival (six draws and six defeats). With United’s classification and the tie in the other group F duel between Young Boys and Atalanta (3-3), those who will dispute the last ticket to the second round will be Villarreal and Atalanta, the second and third respectively. Precisely both will collide in Italy on the last date of the group stage.

The Barcelona it keeps getting complicated. In Xavi’s second game at the helm of the club, the Blaugranas prevailed in the game and created several scoring opportunities, but failed to achieve any chance. Benfica, who came from thrashing the ‘culés’ in Portuguese territory, dedicated themselves to defending for much of the match. He bet on the safe side, the backlash. And so, with the ‘Barza’ played all in attack, he almost found the goal of the feat at the feet of Haris Seferovic.

In the discounts, the Swiss failed inexplicably with the bow at full disposal. It seemed easier to find the back of the net than to send the ball out. The final 0-0 against a half-empty Camp Nou left Xavi’s team one step away from playing the Europa League. Why? If the ‘Eagles’ defeat Dinamo Kiev in Lisbon on the last date (most likely), Barcelona will be forced to beat the leading Bayern in Munich, which it has never achieved in this competition. For the anecdote, the Bavarians triumphed 2-1 yesterday under the snow of Kiev, with goals from Lewandowski and Coman, and added 15 points at the top of group E.

The biggest result of the day came at Stamford Bridge, where the last European champion beat Juventus 4-0 and qualified for the last 16. Goals from Chalobah, James, Hudson-Odoi and Werner served to the ‘Blues’ surpass the ‘Vecchia Signora’ for the first time since March 2009. In the other group H match, Malmo (with Peña for 78 ′) drew 1-1 with Zenit and was out of everything.

Guardiola and Messi will meet again this afternoon (3:00 pm) when Manchester City – first, with nine points – and PSG – second, with eight points – meet at the Etihad Stadium. The English will seek revenge after falling 2-0 at the Parc des Princes. Whoever wins will automatically qualify for the round of 16.

At the same time, the Sheriff FC of the Peruvian Gustavo Dulanto will receive the Real Madrid, leader of group D. To dream of qualifying for the last 16, those from Transnistria will need to draw at least. That, whatever happens, will leave them alive for the final day of the contest, in which they will visit Shakhtar.