Pepsi Changemakers: Pivotal instances from the Champions League round of 16 first legs
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Anthony Elanga feature in our collection of Changemakers from the round of 16 first legs.
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UEFA Champions League Changemakers, brought to you by Pepsi, picks out the pivotal instances that proved decisive in shifting the momentum in the latest round of games.
First up, we look at the turning points in the round of 16 first legs, taking in Neymar's impact against Real Madrid, Benjamin Pavard's goalline block for Bayern, Anthony Elanga's super-sub cameo and plenty more besides.
Changemakers: round of 16 first legs
Neymar's introduction and assist (Paris 1-0 Real Madrid)
Benjamin Pavard's goalline block (Salzburg 1-1 Bayern)
Roberto Firmino off the bench to score (Inter 0-2 Liverpool)
Dani Parejo inspires comeback (Villarreal 1-1 Juventus)
Anthony Elanga makes super-sub cameo (Atlético 1-1 Manchester United)
Neymar's introduction and assist
Paris had controlled much of the game against Real Madrid but were unable to pick the lock, so it was little surprise the clamour for Neymar – out injured since November – grew ever louder. On he came and, deep into added time, duly provided the magic dust required to allow Kylian Mbappé to do his thing.
Benjamin Pavard's goalline block
From the minute Chikwubuike Adamu struck midway through the first half, Salzburg had their sights set on a shock for the ages. Bayern huffed and puffed but, just as they laid siege to the hosts' goal, so nearly conceded a second at the other end – Pavard's block on the line keeping them in the tie and, ultimately, allowing them to claim a late draw on the night, too.
Roberto Firmino off the bench to score
Liverpool had their backs against the wall for much of a testing evening in Milan, not least in the early stages of the second half. Roberto Firmino had already come off the bench by that point, replacing Diogo Jota at half-time, but it was Jürgen Klopp's triple change just before the hour that truly stemmed the tide. Firmino's delightful header set them on their way to a fine win.
Dani Parejo inspires comeback
Villarreal could have been forgiven for being rattled by Dušan Vlahović's 33-second opener for Juventus. They reacted with vigour, however, and forced Juve to focus on protecting, rather than adding to, their lead. The visitors' defence was breached when Parejo sprung from deep to meet Étienne Capoue's perfectly weighted ball.
Anthony Elanga makes super-sub cameo
United were second best for much of their trip to Atlético and could arguably have been all but out of the tie by the time Elanga came off the bench with 15 minutes left. The 19-year-old knows only one way, though, and "is enjoying himself on the pitch" according to manager Ralf Rangnick. It certainly looked that way when he raced on to Bruno Fernandes's perfect pass before finishing calmly.