Five most entertaining games of the 2019/20 Champions League season
A total of 386 goals were scored in the 2019/20 Champions League season despite the fact that the campaign was largely hit by the global pandemic. This figure is a significant gain over last season’s tally of 366 goals, and while it may not sound like a bigger margin, keep in mind that there were six fewer games played this year.
A season where Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich become only the second team in the tournament’s history after Barcelona to win a Champions League treble in multiple campaigns saw several enthralling games being played right from the group stages. And now that the tournament is dusted, it is the perfect time to look back at what transpired throughout the season.
On that note, today we take a look at five of the most entertaining games of the 2019/20 season of the UEFA Champions League.
Tottenham 2 Bayern 7
In an arguably the lowest point of Mauricio Pochettino’s managerial career, his Tottenham side was ripped to shreds at home by Bayern Munich in only their second game of the group stage.
To everyone’s surprise, it was Tottenham who went into the lead through Son Heung-Min, but the Bavarians restored the parity withing next three minutes. Striker Robert Lewandowski made it 2-1 for his side right on the cusp of half-time, and it was all about Bayern and Serge Gnabry in particular in the second half.
While Lewandowski had scored a brace, the former Arsenal winger, Gnabry, scored four in a mere 35 minutes to hand Tottenham their biggest defeat in their new stadium.
Liverpool 4 RB Salzburg 3
Liverpool started their Champions League title defence with a 2-0 away defeat to Napoli, but they bounced back to winning ways in their subsequent fixture in front of a demanding Red Bull Salzburg side.
The Reds started off on a bright note, with Sadio Mane scoring the opener in as early as the ninth minute, setting the momentum for left-back Andrew Robertson, who made it two just five minutes before the half-hour mark. Mohamed Salah kept it going for Jurgen Klopp, scoring the third some 11 minutes after, but Salzburg got their breakthrough after Hwang Hee-chan found the net five minutes before half-time.
The teams went into the break with the scoreline reading 3-1, and little did Liverpool know what was awaiting in the second period.
It took a mere four minutes for the Austrian side to light the game as Takumi Minamino, now a Liverpool player, and Erling Haaland, now representing Borussia Dortmund, brought the game on level terms right on the hour’s mark. Nine minutes later though, Roberto Firmino’s cheeky header from the edge of the box found Salah, and the Egyptian made no mistake in restoring the advantage for his side as Liverpool won the clinched the victory right from the jaw.
Chelsea 4 Ajax 4
Stamford Bridge bore witness to an enthralling group stage game between Chelsea and Ajax in November 2019. The two teams had met before in the competition, with the Blues coming out with a 1-0 win at Johan Cruff Arena. And so, looking for resurrection, Ajax went full guns blazing, forcing Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham to put the ball into his own net in only the second minute of the game.
The Blues levelled the game through Jorginho’s penalty before Quincy Promes made it 2-1 after being set up by the now Chelsea player, Hakim Ziyech. The Moroccan was at it 15 minutes later as his free-kick bounced back from the post only to find its way into the net through keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Stamford Bridge crowd was stunned after midfielder Donny van de Beek made it 4-1 ten minutes after the break.
It looked like game set and match for Ajax, but Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta pulled one back. What followed next was an absolute spectacle. Defender Daley Blind fouled Abraham, but the referee waved play on. In the same built-up, a shot then hit Joel Veltman's arm in the Ajax box. The official returned to Blind, handing him his second caution of the game, while Veltman also got his marching orders, reducing the Ajax side to 10 men with 20 minutes still to play.
Jorginho made it 4-3 from the spot before Reece James completed Chelsea’s sensational turnaround minutes later. The two-man advantage seemed obvious as Chelsea pushed for the winner and Azpilicueta seemed to have found one, only for VAR to intervene and chalk off the goal due to handball in the buildup.
Liverpool 2 Atletico Madrid 3
Atletico Madrid stunned the defending champions, Liverpool, in the first leg of the round of 16, with Saul Niguez’s fourth-minute strike proving out to the winner. As the teams went into the second leg, the Spanish side knew what to expect in front of a packed Anfield crowd.
Atletico defended for their lives, but Liverpool found a way through Gini Wijnaldum a couple of minutes before half-time. Such was the intensity that it needed extra-time after the full-time whistle to find a winner.
Four minutes into it and Liverpool thought they had overturned the game on its head after Roberto Firmino scored his first Anfield goal of the season. Three minutes later, Marcos Llorente scored Atletico's crucial away goal to make it 2-1. The 25-year-old restored parity in the 105th minute before former Chelsea striker, Alvaro Morata added salt to Liverpool’s wound by scoring his side’s third in the dying minutes of the game to send Atletico through to the last eight.
Barcelona 2 Bayern Munich 8
A game for the ages!
Bayern Munich taking on Barcelona always produces fireworks, but this particular game was much more than that. Given Bayern’s goalscoring form, they were duly branded as the favourite, but no one expected them to dominate the game as they did in Lisbon, Portugal.
Playing in their 13th consecutive quarter-finals, Barcelona conceded the opening goal inside the first five minutes. They, however, responded a couple of minutes later as an own goal from David Alaba made it all square on the night. But from this point on, it was all about Bayern and their utter domination.
The Bavarians scored three goals inside nine minutes as the teams went into the dressing room with the score 4-1. Returning to the fray, they scored four more, but the highlight remains the return of their on-loan midfielder, Philippe Coutinho, who came from the bench in the 76th minute, assisted one and scored two against his parent club as Bayern completed the highest-scoring knockout game in UEFA Champions League history.
It was the first time that Barcelona had conceded six goals or more in a European match.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manu Fernandez