Barcelona fails to cross Galatasaray hurdle; Rangers and Atalanta in lead

Barcelona was left frustrated as Galatasaray restricted them to a goalless stalemate

The first leg of the round of 16 ties of UEFA Europa League 2021/22 produced seven enthralling matches. Turkish side Galatasaray put their hearts, blood and sweat on the line to restrict prime title contenders Barcelona to a goalless draw, whereas Rangers extended their exemplary run to hand Crvena Zvezda a 3-0 humbling.

The highlight tie between Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen ended in favor of the Italian side with Luis Muriel starring alongside Ukrainian forward Ruslan Malinovsky.

Porto vs Lyon (0-1)

After bowing out of the UEFA Champions League earlier this season, Porto is now on the verge of bowing out of the UEFA Europa League as they suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their ‘Round of 16’ clash against Lyon.

Despite creating chances aplenty, the Portuguese giants failed to find the back of the net but French outfit Lyon did in the 59th minute when Lucas Paqueta’s goal stunned the Estadio do Dragao.

Real Betis vs Eintracht Frankfurt (2-1)

Like Porto, Real Betis is another team that failed to utilize home conditions to their advantage, as they were beaten on their home turf by Eintracht Frankfurt. Filip Kostic’s goal have the German side an early lead in the game.

Frenchman Nabil Fekis scored in the 30th minute to bring the Spanish side back in the hunt, but it was not of much use as Daichi Kamada restored Frankfurt’s lead only a couple of minutes later.

Sevilla vs West Ham United (1-0)

Munir El Haddadi’s sublime strike handed Sevilla a 1-0 win

Munir El Haddadi’s sublime strike handed Sevilla a 1-0 win

The game between Sevilla and West Ham United was always likely to produce a fascinating contest, as while Sevilla is the most successful team in this competition, West Ham United proved their calibre in the group stages.

The Spanish team dominated the proceedings, though to be fair to the Hammers, they did look threatening on the counter. The decisive goal of the match was scored in the 60th minute by Munir El Haddadi.

Barcelona vs Galatasaray (0-0)

Many expected Barcelona to have it easy against Galatasaray, mainly for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Blaugranas have played well in the recent weeks and have won all of their last four matches, scoring fourteen goals in the process. To add to that, the game was being played at their fortress, Camp Nou.

However, none of these factors eventually mattered as the Turkish outfit managed to get a goalless stalemate to take back to Istanbul. Xavi’s men led in ball possession, chances created and passes completed, but they ultimately could not get the lead on the score-sheet.

Rangers vs Crvena Zvezda (3-0)

After a surprising 6-4 win on aggregate against German giants Borussia Dortmund in the last round, Rangers continued their sensational run of form as they handed Serbian opposition Crvena Zvezda a 3-0 defeat.

James Tavernier opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 11th minute, whilst Alfredo Morelos doubled the Gers’ lead only four minutes later. To put the icing on the cake, Leon Balogun also joined the party with his 51st-minute strike.

Braga vs AS Monaco (2-0)

Besides Galatasaray’s draw, this result also came as a surprise as Portuguese team Braga handed a formidable AS Monaco side a 2-0 defeat. Os Arcebispos had a fantastic start as Spanish wonder kid Abel Ruiz scored the opener in the third minute.

Monaco tried all they could to break Braga’s resilience after conceding and though they enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession, not much came out of it. Instead, it was the Archbishops who struck again in the 89th minute when Vitor Manuel Oliviera’s strike made it 2-0 for Braga.

Atalanta vs Bayer Leverkusen (3-2)

Beyond any doubt, the Atalanta-Bayer Leverkusen game was the most enthralling match of this round. Leverkusen gave a good account of themselves but Atalanta eventually came out on top by a 3-2 margin.Charles Aranguiz’s strike drew first blood for the German outfit before Malinovskyi restored parity for La Dea in the 23rd minute. Then, Muriel scored a brace for the Italian team but Moussa Diaby’s 63rd-minute strike helped reduce the deficit with Leverkusen still needing a lot to go in their favor in the second leg tie.