Five things we learned from Tuesday’s Champions League action

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Arsenal and Barcelona became the latest teams to book their place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Here is what we made of the action.


Welcome back, penalties

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Until this week, the Champions League’s knockout stages hadn’t delivered the thrills many football fans tune in to see.

Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain all reached the last eight in almost perfunctory fashion.

But Arsenal doing it the hard way against Porto breathed new life into the soon-to-be outdated format of Europe’s elite club competition.

Mikel Arteta’s men reached the quarter finals with remarkably the first UCL penalty shootout since the 2016 final between Atlético de Madrid and Los Blancos.

The nerve-shredding tension of seeing both sets of players stepping up from 12 yards has definitely been missed and, hopefully, won’t take another eight years to return.


Barça find magic up the hill

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Tuesday's Champions League action

It’s fair to say Barcelona’s relationship with Montjuïc’s Olympic Stadium has been a turbulent one at best.

Games at their interim home have either been largely uneventful or ended on the wrong side of high-stakes encounters such as El Clásico.

But whisper it, the Blaugrana might just be about to make a different kind of memories “up the hill” after seeing off Napoli in their last-16 clash.

Espanyol’s former stomping ground was at its liveliest since the Spanish champions took up temporary residence at the start of this season.

And a 4-2 aggregate win for Xavi’s men added a long-awaited dose of magic to their tenancy at the Lluís Companys.


Arsenal back in unfamiliar territory

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Arsenal’s shootout victory broke more than one unbelievably long Champions League hoodoo.

David Raya’s heroics at spot kicks delivered a first quarter-final appearance for the north Londoners since 2009/10.

The football world was a very different place back when Arsène Wenger’s side last went deep into the competition’s last eight.

Since then, the Frenchman has been replaced twice over, the Gunners are back vying for the Premier League title and there’s been 14 versions of the iPhone.

If that doesn’t make you feel old, nothing will!


Napoli’s exit comes at a cost

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Napoli’s campaign continues to veer from one extreme to the next and they were decidedly second-best for large parts against Barcelona.

Although Francesco Calzona’s side rallied later in the first half, they were always facing an uphill task after shipping two goals in the opening 17 minutes.

But the fallout from their dismal night in Catalonia carries far-reaching consequences beyond simply exiting the Champions League’s knockout stage.

Consequently, elimination in the last 16 means that the Partneopei’s bid to qualify for FIFA’s rebranded Club World Cup has officially ended.

The fallen Serie A champions needed to accrue enough points in the UCL to eclipse Juventus for a spot at the tournament kicking off in the USA next year.


A night for the ages

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Tuesday's Champions League action

Both of Tuesday’s ties might not go down as all-time classics but they made history in their own special ways.

Barcelona became the first club to start two players aged 17 or under in a Champions League knockout tie with Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsí.

The teenage defender broke another record by taking the title from Real Madrid counterpart David Alaba as the youngest-ever European debutant.

Meanwhile at the Emirates, the end of Porto’s continental adventure saw an evergreen Pepe also etching his name into the record books.

At 41 years and 16 days, the three-time Champions League winner became the oldest outfield player to feature in the competition.

Truly a night for the ages.

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