Manchester City and Inter Milan nearing the Champions League semi-finals

Both teams won the first legs of their quarter-finals on Tuesday, giving them an edge ahead of the return matches next week.

Rodri delivered an incredible goal and Erling Haaland set another scoring record as Manchester City defeated Bayern Munich 3-0 on Tuesday to continue their quest for the Champions League title in their quarter-final first leg.

Haaland, who scored City’s third goal of the night in the 76th minute, has a single-season record of 45 goals in all competitions, surpassing Mo Salah and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Rodri scored the first goal for Pep Guardiola’s team in the 27th minute by cutting the ball back to beat midfielder Jamal Musiala and curling a blistering long-range shot into the top left corner beyond the outstretched hand of Yann Sommer.

“I know that this Bayern team is special,” said Guardiola, who managed Bayern from 2013-16. “We got a good result, but we need two strong games. Anything can happen at Allianz Arena. I know that because I was at Bayern for three years.”

Rodri celebrated with a long knee slide on the rain-soaked turf at the Etihad, while Bayern’s new manager Thomas Tuchel threw up his hands in disgust en route to his team’s biggest defeat in the Champions League since a 3-0 loss to Paris St Germain in 2017.

“It was very special for me to score my first goal in the Champions League. At that moment we were struggling because they are a great, great team,” Rodri told BT Sport.

What had been an evenly matched game turned thoroughly in City’s favour midway through the second half, and Bernardo Silva scored their second in the 70th minute, heading in a cross from Haaland. The Norwegian got a goal of his own six minutes later, striking from closerange.

“This never happens to Bayern Munich but credit to Manchester City, they were brilliant in both boxes,” former Bayern player Owen Hargreaves said on BT Sport. “Pep had a game plan and it worked beautifully.”

Sommer had a busy night and was pressed into action early, almost gifting Haaland a goal in the 14th minute. Taking too long to clear the ball, the striker bulldozed in and got his foot on the ball two yards from the net, but it flew wide.

City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan had a brilliant chance in the 34th minute, but Sommer, who was on the ground, stuck a leg out to save what looked like a certain goal. Ruben Dias’s flick in the second half looked bound for the net, but Sommer tipped it over the crossbar. However, he was helpless to stop Silva and then Haaland from completing the win.

Inter Milan put one foot into the Champions League semi-finals with a comfortable 2-0 win at Benfica on Tuesday, with Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku netting in Lisbon. The Italians, three-time winners, took a commanding quarter-final first leg lead at the Estadio da Luz, inflicting Benfica’s first defeat in the competition.

After an even first half, Barella headed home from Alessandro Bastoni’s cross and substitute Romelu Lukaku netted the second from the penalty spot late on. Roger Schmidt’s Benfica, aiming to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1990, were not able to put a glove on the visitors, who controlled the pace of the game.

Having scored two goals in their previous five games across all competitions, they managed the same tally in Lisbon with clinical finishing.

“It’s been one of our best games this season,” Inter midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan told British broadcaster BT Sport. “We were dominating all over the pitch. We were doubling up and were everywhere, helping each other and we got (rewarded) for it. We’ve done a great job. “But it’s still not over, we still have to face them in a week and we know it’s not going to be easy.”

Neither side was able to create clear chances in a tight opening period. The closest Benfica came was Andre Onana blocking a Rafa Silva drive after Federico Dimarco accidentally headed the ball into his path in the box. Inter Milan defender Francesco Acerbi hammered over from 30 yards at the other end.

The Italians had the opportunity to hit the hosts on the break after half an hour, but Lautaro Martinez played a poor pass which was blocked, with 37-year-old target man Edin Dzeko alone in space.Inter Milan broke the deadlock early in the second half when Barella headed Bastoni’s looping cross back across goal and into the bottom corner.

The goal crowned a superb performance from the Italy international, while Inter’s defense kept a sixth clean sheet in nine Champions League matches this season.

Schmidt sent on David Neres for midfielder Florentino in search of the equalizer, but Inter doubled their lead with eight minutes remaining. Joao Mario, one of Benfica’s best players this season, handled Denzel Dumfries’s cross, gifting his former side a penalty.

Lukaku drilled it beyond the reach of Greek goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos, answering some criticism of his recent form. Coach Simone Inzaghi had selected Dzeko ahead of Lukaku after the Belgian had missed gilt-edged chances in recent weeks, but he did not miss in a high-pressure moment.

Benfica might have pulled a goal back deep in stoppage time but Onana made a fine save to deny Ramos, who seemed poised to score.

The victory gives Inter a fine chance of setting up an all-Italian semi-final against Serie A leaders Napoli or city rivals AC Milan. Inter, who beat another Portuguese side, Porto, in the last 16, host Benfica on Wednesday April 19 at the San Siro in the second leg.

(Jowhar with Reuters and AFP)

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