UEFA Champions League play-offs continued on Wednesday with a series of tight contests headlined by a 1-0 victory for FC Porto at Lyon.
The Portuguese side grabbed the advantage heading into next Tuesday’s second leg when Hector Herrera scored the only goal of the match after 61 minutes.
Lyon nearly went level through Sebastien Corchia but were unable to capitalize and will need to score at least twice next week to overcome the deficit.
Standard Liege 1 Zenit St Petersburg
Andre Villas-Boas’ side came into Belgium and dominated the first leg but failed to capitalize beyond a one-goal win. The decisive strike came in the 16th minute after Oleg Shatov took a perfect cross from Hulk and buried it into the left corner. Zenit went on to register 17 attempts on target, 9 more than their counter-parts.
Maribor 1 Celtic 1
It took only five minutes for Glasgow Celtic to open the scoring in Slovenia on Wednesday as Callum McGregor finished from close range after some nice flank play from Jo Inge Berget. Ten minutes later, however, Maribor was level when Damjan Bohar found himself through after he beating the offside trap, collecting Zeljko Filipovic’s slick pass and neatly finishing past a sprawling Craig Gordon.
Both sides traded chances throughout the remainder of the match with Charlie Mulgrew, Virgil van Dijk and Stefan Johansen all coming close for Celtic while Maribor’s Ales Mertelj unleashed a hovering 30-yard shot that Gordon did well to tip wide.
Aalborg BK 1 Apoel Mariposa 1
Danish side Aalborg BK jumped out to an early lead on Apoel Mariposa when left midfielder Nikolaj Thomsen scored in the 16th minute. The home side held the lead until the 54th minute when Brazilian center-midfielder Vinicius Oliveira Franco leveled for the Cypriots making it all square heading into next week’s second leg.
SK Slovan Bratislava 1 Bate Borisov 1
SK Slovan Bratislava found themselves in a first-half hole when defender Tomas Jablonsky finished into his own net to give Borisov the lead. Jablonsky was bailed out in the second half, however, when Robert Vittek struck with ten minutes to go for the hosts to leave on even-footing with the Belarusian champions.
It was probably the save of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16’s first legs, as David De Gea slapped away Luis Muriel’s bid to give Sevilla a halftime lead over Manchester United on Wednesday in Spain.
[ MORE: Recap | Mourinho reacts ]
Playing in his home country, De Gea had a massive outing in the scoreless draw.
The defiance of Muriel was De Gea’s second big save of the first half’s closing moments, and one of eight in the match.
“It was a good moment, a good save of course, especially because of the moment in the game. It was the last minute of the first half, it was important to not concede a goal. We defended well. They had control of the game, but it remains open.”
Watch the save below, and then catch De Gea against Chelsea on Sunday as two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs duke it out for Top Four positioning at Old Trafford (Watch live Sunday at 9:05 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).
New York City FC might’ve found its dynamic box-to-box midfielder.
Ebenezer Ofori, 22, is bringing his relentless motor and eight Ghanaian caps to the Bronx from Stuttgart on a one year loan deal with an option to buy.
[ MORE: Mourinho on Pogba performance ]
Ofori joined Stuttgart from Swedish side AIK Solna in the January 2017 transfer window, and played a role in the club’s promotion to the Bundesliga. He was a signficant part of Solna’s three-round run in Europa League qualification.
But he found very little time on the pitch once Stuttgart rejoined Germany’s top flight, and is taking his talents to MLS.
Here’s NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira:
“I’m really excited to bring in Ebenezer – he’s a young player who is looking to improve, he is really dynamic and can cover ground. He’s really aggressive but he’s good with the ball too. I’m really pleased that we managed to bring him to the football club.
“He’s a competitor, he’s a guy who likes to win, he’s a strong character. He’s coming to this club to compete with the midfielders we have and, like I always say, that will bring the best out of all of the players we have at this football club.”
Ofori joins a midfield with Alexander Ring, Maxi Moralez, and Yangel Herrera. It’s a promising signing, and a name with the potential to take big steps on the club and international scene.
And moves like this are going to continue to happen for NYCFC, because players will feel the allure of being under the eye of Manchester City and the pull of becoming City property. It’s a different dynamic than Chelsea’s loanees in that young players can make their name and be a star in a gigantic world city while attempting to ingratiate themselves with one of the world’s biggest clubs.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had fine words for Paul Pogba, but was tickled by the performance of 21-year-old Scott McTominay in the Red Devils scoreless draw with Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
[ RECAP: Sevilla 0-0 Man Utd ]
The visitors emerged unscathed, though without an away goal, and Mourinho raised eyebrows when he kept Pogba on the bench to start the match. The young McTominay started the match, and was paired with Pogba once Ander Herrera left the match with injury.
When a reporter asked Mourinho about McTominay after the match, the boss asked if he could give the reporter a hug before elaborating (via the BBC):
“In the press conference, the questions were about Paul [Pogba] but the question should be about the kid. He was fantastic. He did everything well. He put pressure on Ever Banega and stopped him playing, he’s their playmaker. I think Scott was brilliant.
“I think Paul made a big effort to try to give the team what I asked of him. Paul replaced Ander, he tried to bring to the game the same kind of qualities. He lost a couple of possessions but he also gave us stability because we had a good percentage of possession for the way we played.”
Mourinho was sure to include Nemanja Matic as a big part of the midfield trio.
The Pogba-Mourinho questions aren’t going to go away any time soon, though it should be noted — perhaps strongly — that the player was ill this weekend and United has to face Chelsea in Premier League play this weekend.
Still, he couldn’t help but mention how much he believes “Old Trafford has missed a big European night,” and how he’s looking forward to a potentially big win come March 13.
- English sides unbeaten vs. La Liga in UCL season (2-6)
- Pogba subs into match for Herrera, 17′
- De Gea with seven saves for United
David De Gea was the star as Manchester United escaped Sevilla with a scoreless draw in the first leg of the two sides’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
Sevilla won a corner kick within 90 seconds, but the ball made its way through the 18 without finding a receiver.
Ander Herrera sprung Alexis Sanchez down the middle, but Jesus Navas cut across to catch the Chilean and thwart the United chance.
Navas then dragged a shot across goal and past a diving David De Gea but inches wide of the far post.
A Herrera injury — yes, another injury United supporters — meant Paul Pogba would join the fray after just 17 minutes with the key position in the 4-3-3.
Lukaku botched a terrific diagonal cross from Sanchez with a blast over the goal in the 25th minute.
The 38th minute saw Scott McTominay pump a ball right at Sergio Rico for the Sevilla backstop’s first save, and Angl Correa’s low shot was collected by De Gea for a third Red Devils save.
De Gea then made a leaping save on Steven N’Zonzi’s redirection of a bicycle kick just before halftime, and then slapped Luis Muriel’s header over the bar before the whistle.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]
De Gea nabbed another save, his sixth in the contest, when Clement Lenglet got his head on an Ever Banega free kick in the 64th minute.
A Sanchez giveaway provided Sevilla the chance to counter, and Muriel couldn’t get the step back needed to power a header past De Gea.
United had a goal pulled back in the 83rd minute as the ball struck Lukaku’s arm in the build-up.