Thiago beats Juve in Champions League

The last and arguably most exciting round of 16 duel came between Bayern Munich and Juventus. The Bundesliga club fought to a 2-2 draw in Turin during the first leg, and those two away goals gave them a crucial advantage coming back to the Allianz Arena. Juve, on the other hand, were without several key players as Paulo Dybala, Claudio Marchisio and Giorgio Chiellini all missed the match through injury. The odds looked to be stacked against the Serie A leaders, but Massimiliano Allegri’s squad put up quite the fight.

Juve actually opened up the scoring just five minutes into the match. A poor touch from David Alaba at the back and poor positioning from Manuel Neuer left the net wide open. The ball fell to Paul Pogba right inside the 18-yard box and the Frenchman easily slotted home the opener.

The second goal of the match came just before the half hour mark. A quick counter attack from the Italians saw Álvaro Morata dart through the heart of Bayern’s midfield before sliding past two defenders. Morata played the ball to a wide open Juan Cuadrado, who pulled off a clever fake shot to move past Philipp Lahm before hammering home past Manuel Neuer.

Juventus now found themselves with an unimaginable two-goal first half lead in Munich and a 4-2 aggregate score. Even with their depleted lineup, the Italian club looked like they were going to pull off the impossible and advance to the quarterfinals. Bayern would now need to find a way to replicate their two-goal performance in Italy.

At the start of the second half, Morata actually had two chances to put the nail in Bayern’s coffin. The Spanish striker’s excellent runs off the ball, and quick feet put him in good position, but a routine save from Neuer stopped the first shot while his second flew just over the crossbar.

In the 73rd minute, Bayern’s hope was rekindled. A pinpoint cross from Douglas Costa picked out Robert Lewandowski’s head. Lewandowski made no mistake as he placed his header into the back of the net. The miraculous comeback was completed in the 90th minute after Arturo Vidal stripped Patrice Evra in the final third of the pitch. Vidal found Kingsley Coman on the wing and the French attacker’s cross fell right on the head of Thomas Müller. The 26-year-old’s effort sent the Allianz Arena into a frenzy and sent the match into extra time.

In the first 15-minute period, the first and only chance fell to Juve but Stephan Lichtsteiner’s low drive just wasn’t good enough to beat Neuer. It wasn’t until the final 15 minutes that the fireworks really started. In the 108th minute, it was Thiago that scored the eventual game-winner after a brilliant one-two with Müller in the penalty area. The Spaniard’s first-touch shot left Buffon helpless and put the hosts a goal to the good.

While Thiago’s late goal may have disheartened Juve, the Italians were still very much in the match. If they scored one more goal then they would still be able to advance on away goals and avoid penalties. It just wasn’t meant to be though as their loaned striker Kingsley Coman delivered the final dagger almost immediately after Thiago’s goal. The 19-year-old dribbled almost the entire length of the pitch into Juve’s penalty area before curling a beauty into the top corner of the net.

Coman’s strike ended his parent club’s dreams of making it back to the Champions League final and puts Bayern through to the quarterfinals. Either of these teams would have been considered favorites to go far in the tournament, but it has to be frightening for other clubs after seeing the resiliency of Bayern even when they weren’t playing their A game. Who will have the misfortune of drawing Pep Guardiola’s side next round?


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