The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League has been full of with exciting match-ups. From lopsided scorelines and nail-biting encounters to surprise results and shock upsets, Europe’s premier football competition has delivered on all fronts, providing quality entertainment to the fans.
With the Champions League campaign currently on an indefinite pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, SportsAdda takes a look back at five of the best matches from the 2019/20 season so far.
RB Salzburg 6-2 Genk (September 2019)
This was the match that put Erling Haaland firmly on the map. While it’s true that the Norwegian had been scoring goals for fun at Salzburg for a while up till then, stepping up and bundling in a hat-trick on his Champions League debut made every top club across Europe sit up and take notice.
It just took Haaland two minutes into his debut to open his goalscoring account, before he doubled his tally in the 34th minute. Hwang Hee-chan then made it 3-0 minutes later, but Jhon Lucumi pulled one back for Genk. Haaland would then go on to complete his hat-trick on the verge of half-time to become only the eighth player to bag a treble on his Champions League debut.
Dominik Szoboszlai added yet another goal for RB Salzburg immediately after, to make it 5-1. Mbwana Samatta found the net for Genk early in the second half but the result was a foregone conclusion by then, as Andreas Ulmer scored for Salzburg in the 666th minute to add yet another layer of sheen to the scoreline.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-7 Bayern Munich (October 2019)
One of the lowest points of Mauricio Pochettino’s career at Tottenham came when Bayern Munich tore his team to shreds at their new stadium in the group stage.
It all started well for Spurs, with Son Heung-min handing them the lead just 12 minutes in, but it wouldn’t last for long.
Joshua Kimmich equalised only three minutes later, before Robert Lewandowski made it 2-1 on the verge of half-time to put Bayern in the driving seat.
The floodgates opened after half-time as the German giants, led by a fired-up Serge Gnabry, tore through the Spurs rearguard relentlessly. The former Arsenal winger added two goals within ten minutes in the second period.
Harry Kane pulled one back for Tottenham from the penalty spot at the hour mark, but two more goals from Gnabry on either side of a Lewandowski strike condemned Tottenham to one of their worst defeats.
Chelsea 4-4 Ajax (November 2019)
A match packed with drama every step of the way kicked off when Tammy Abraham scored into his own net to hand Ajax the lead just two minutes in. However, Chelsea struck back two minutes later as Jorginho bundled home a penalty after Christian Pulisic was fouled.
Quincy Promes would then make it 2-1 for the visitors after being set up by soon-to-be Chelsea player Hakim Ziyech. The Moroccan was involved in Ajax’s third goal soon after, as a free-kick delivered by him bounced back off the post and hit Kepa Arrizabalaga in the face before rolling into the net. When Donny van de Beek made it 4-1 ten minutes after the break, it seemed like the game was done and dusted.
But Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta pulled one back and what followed was frantic action at its best. Daley Blind fouled Abraham but the referee allowed play to continue and a Blues’ shot then hit Joel Veltman's arm in the Ajax box.
The official awarded a penalty, went back and showed Blind a second yellow card, with Veltman also getting sent off seconds later for the handball.
Jorginho scored again from the resulting penalty to make it 4-3 before Reece James completed Chelsea’s sensational turnaround minutes later.
With a two-man advantage, Chelsea pushed for a winner and Azpilicueta seemed to have clinched it for his team, only for VAR to intervene and chalk off the goal due to handball in the buildup.
Truly, a match for the ages!
Dinamo Zagreb 3-3 Shakhtar Donetsk (November 2019)
One of the most exciting finishes to a match in this season’s Champions League came when Zagreb played hosts to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Alan Patrick had put the visitors ahead early in the game but Dinamo Zagreb reined them back through Bruno Petkovic before half-time.
Both teams lost a man in the second period but as the game entered the final ten minutes, no more goals were scored. So when Luka Ivanusec made it 2-1 in favour of the hosts in the 83rd minute, it seemed that Dinamo had done enough to win it. And when Arijan Ademi added another in the 89th minute, it looked as if the game was surely in the bag for the Croatian champions.
Not quite. Two minutes into stoppage time, Moraes headed home a Victor Kovalenko cross to offer a glimmer of hope to Shakhtar. The visitors pressed on in search of an equaliser and Dinamo crumbled, handing Shakhtar a penalty in the final minute of stoppage time. Under immense pressure, Mateus Tete stepped up and made no mistake, pulling off one of the unlikeliest comebacks for the Ukrainian giants.
Liverpool 2-3 Atletico Madrid (March 2020)
Leading 1-0 in their round-of-16 tie thanks to a home win in the first leg, Atleti came to Anfield with just one intention – defend and see out the game. While they managed to frustrate Liverpool for the most part, a Gini Wijnaldum strike on the verge of half-time changed everything.
The visitors, for their part, stuck to their tactics and kept pushing back Jurgen Klopp’s men even as they turned up the pressure, forcing the game into extra-time. And when Roberto Firmino bundled home four minutes into extra-time, the atmosphere at Anfield was electric.
A mistake from stand-in Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian provided Atletico with an opportunity and defensive midfielder Marcos Llorente, who was brought on early in the second half to help contain Liverpool’s pressure, turned into a hero for the Spanish giants by finishing past Adrian, making it 2-1 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate and putting Atletico on their way to the quarter-final.
Llorente doubled his tally on the night minutes later, as Adrian failed to save his effort from distance, thus killing off any hopes of a comeback that Liverpool had, before Alvaro Morata rubbed salt into their wounds by adding a third late in the game.
And just like that, Liverpool’s train, hurtling at top speed, had been brought to a screeching halt.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Daniel Leal-Olivas