Zlatan, CR7 & the 20 Most Memorable Champions League Moments This Season
It's been another magical UEFA Champions League campaign, offering us goals, drama, shocks and comebacks aplenty.
From Javier Pastore's remarkable goal against Chelsea in the dying seconds to Cristiano Ronaldo's three-goal start to the tournament, we've listed 20 of the most memorable moments in the competition this season.
What was your favourite moment? Pick it out and tell us in the comments below!
Cristiano Ronaldo's Hat-Trick vs. Galatasaray
Real Madrid kicked off the UEFA Champions League campaign as they meant to go on: Trouncing Roberto Mancini's Galatasaray 6-1 away from home.
The Turk Telecom Arena stood in stunned silence as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria ripped their side to shreds, with the former bagging a hat-trick at the first time of asking.
Hell of a way to begin your goal trail, CR7.
Salah & Streller Scorch Chelsea
Chelsea's first gameweek couldn't have gone any worse, with the Blues opening up their campaign with a 2-1 home loss to FC Basel.
Jose Mourinho's men had trouble breaking down a stubborn Swiss outfit and got burned on the counter multiple times. Marco Streller and Mohamed Salah were so impressive in their exploits, the Portuguese boss decided the sign the latter in January for £15 million.
David Moyes Begins with a Bang
Doubts and worries over David Moyes' poor European record vanished after a strong, positive start to the competition.
Manchester United defeated the stern challenge of Sami Hyypia's Bayer Leverkusen on their opening night, with Wayne Rooney (2), Antonio Valencia and Robin van Persie scoring the goals.
Neither manager is currently employed.
Anderlecht Crushed by Zlatan
Anderlecht were unfortunate enough to be drawn into the same group as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and on one wild night in Belgium, the Swede showed the world why he's one of the best players on the planet.
Gregory van der Wiel put his first goal on a platter, but after that it was all Ibra; a clever back-heeled finish, a rocket strike from 30 yards and an acute-angle finish in off the post completed his haul of four.
Yaya Toure Subjected to Racist Abuse
Unfortunately not all of this season's most memorable moments are positive; some light the grim path, revealing just how far we have to go and how hard we have to work to remove imbeciles from the game.
Manchester City's 2-1 victory over CSKA Moscow was marred by the home fans subjecting Yaya Toure to racist abuse. As a fluent Russian speaker, the Ivorian was able to identify the insults quickly and clearly.
The club were punished swiftly by UEFA, per the BBC.
Manchester City Blitzed by Bayern Munich
Gameweek 2 saw Manchester City destroyed by Bayern Munich, with a 3-1 loss at home a flattering scoreline.
Franck Ribery's long-range shot squeezed past the disappointing Joe Hart in just the seventh minute, the hosts were all over the place tactically and Hart made another rash decision racing out to meet Thomas Mueller...and failing to stop him from scoring.
A rare bad night at the Etihad.
Bayern Munich Shatter Records
It's been a record-breaking season for Bayern Munich, but it's arguable the most impressive run they embarked upon was the one that received the least amount of attention.
In beating CSKA Moscow 3-1 on their own patch, die Bayern made it 10 European victories on the trot—a record that stretched back into the previous season under Jupp Heynckes, too.
They lost their very next game at home to Manchester City.
Shakhtar Compound the Misery; Outline Real Sociedad's Naivety
One of the more enlightening stories coming into the competition was the fact that Real Sociedad had sneaked qualification and landed in a group with Manchester United.
Much was expected of Jagoba Arrasate's young charges, and eyes were fixed firmly on talents such as Carlos Vela, Antoine Griezmann and Ruben Pardo.
Unfortunately they were shown up badly, accruing just a single point at home to Manchester United and exiting the competition with a whimper.
No game emphasised this more than the awful 4-0 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Galatasaray vs. Juventus Halted and Continued the Following Day
December 10, 2013 saw Galatasaray take on Juventus in a game that would decide which team would qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Snow began to fall lightly at the beginning of the match, but quickly developed into a storm and forced the game to be halted after 31 minutes.
The next day at 2 p.m. local time (Istanbul), the match resumed in the 31st minute in the exact setting it was stopped: a throw-in from the left side of the pitch with Emmanuel Eboue on the sideline "receiving treatment."
The pitch resembled an ice rink, no one could shoot and eventually Gala's long balls to Didier Drogba won the day.
Ask any fan who was to blame for Manchester City's 2-0 loss to Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium in February and the reply will be unanimous: "Martin Demichelis."
The Argentine, while now settled and playing some of his best football in years under Manuel Pellegrini, had a really torrid month or two earlier on in the campaign and his misjudgment cost City dearly.
He didn't need to lunge in on Lionel Messi and get sent off. The result was a goal anyway, and they went on to lose by two with 10 men.
Arsenal drew Bayern Munich for the second consecutive season in the Round of 16, but unlike the fans, who were approaching the fixture with similar amounts of dread, the players were eager to cause an upset.
The first leg at the Emirates started superbly for the Gunners and they dominated the opening exchanges. Even with untried Yaya Sanogo up front their game was flowing freely, but it soon began to unravel.
Mesut Ozil missed a penalty that would have given them the lead and Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for lunging at Arjen Robben.
Zlatan's Thunderbolt vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Hot on the trail of Cristiano Ronaldo in the topscorer charts, Zlatan Ibrahimovic set the tone for the knockout stages in thunderous fashion against Bayer Leverkusen.
When the ball fell to him on the edge of the box after a penalty box scramble, he slammed it first time into the very top corner, leaving Bernd Leno utterly helpless.
What a hit son!
Hulk Tries to Join Borussia Dortmund—Mid-Game
There's a time and a place for trying to engineer your next career move, and it's definitely not whilst you're playing against your intended future team.
But that didn't stop Hulk, who according to Goal.com asked Borussia Dortmund's Sebastian Kehl if his club might be able to sign him this summer.
Kehl diplomatically suggested they wouldn't be able to afford the Brazilian superstar after comfortably seeing his outfit send Zenit off 4-2.
The 'BBC' Combine to Full Effect
As Schalke fans filed into the Veltins Arena ahead of their side's round-of-16 clash with Real Madrid, none could predict the beating their young charges were about to receive.
The world tuned in to see how Julian Draxler performed against the cream of Europe; instead, the Royal Blues were subjected to a 6-1 mauling in which Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale each notched a brace.
The "BBC," as the trio are affectionately named, had never combined to such dramatic effect before.
Didier Drogba's Stamford Bridge Return
Didier Drogba is a club legend at Chelsea, staying a decade, scoring over 100 goals and netting the decisive penalty in their 2011-12 UEFA Champions League win.
He left the summer after, moving to China for an ill-fated spell before returning to Europe with Galatasaray. When his team were drawn against the Blues and he travelled back to Stamford Bridge for the first time, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Disappointingly, he missed a gilt-edged chance to head home late on and make things interesting.
Olympiakos Stun the World...
Manchester United landed the easiest Round of 16 draw available, avoiding trips to Russia and Turkey and drawing lowly Olympiakos.
The Greek outfit fortuitously qualified for the latter stages after beating Benfica in conditions not conducive to football at all, and Red Devils fans booked their plane tickets expecting a stroll in the park.
Alejandro Dominguez and Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell had the hosts 2-0 up after 54 minutes and it stayed that way; United, on the whole, redefined dreadful on a minute-to-minute basis.
...but Manchester United Break Back
With a two-goal lead and a clean sheet in tow, Olympiakos made the trip to Old Trafford for the return leg knowing a stubborn, defensive outlook could be all it takes to complete the job.
They set up defending deep and countering at pace through Joel Campbell, but poor decision-making began to hinder them in both thirds.
Robin van Persie converted a penalty in the 25th minute and added a second just before half-time. He then completed his hat-trick early in the second half, ensuring United would come back from being down and out.
Javier Pastore's Epic 90th-Minute Goal
With Paris Saint-Germain leading 2-1 over Chelsea at the Parc des Princes in the quarterfinal, the feeling around the ground was that a one-goal advantage was not enough to take to Stamford Bridge.
Laurent Blanc threw on Argentine misfit Javier Pastore as a wild card to see what would happen, and the former Palermo man proceeded to twist several defenders inside-out on a mazy, jinking run that finished with him slotting home.
Cue an eruption in the Boulogne area of Paris.
Demba Ba's Winning Effort
With only one goal in the bank and in need of a second, Chelsea began throwing strikers onto the pitch in the return leg against Paris Saint-Germain willy-nilly.
Jose Mourinho was looking for a hero in any way, shape or form, and one emerged in the 87th minute in the form of a stretching, opportunistic Demba Ba.
After a defensive mix-up he was able to beat his marker to ball and almost scissor it into the roof of the net past Salvatore Sirigu. Chelsea progress, Stamford Bridge goes wild.
Sergio Ramos & Co. Dismantle Bayern Munich
It was supposed to be the year in which Bayern Munich do the impossible: Retain the UEFA Champions League, in its current format, for the first time in history.
But Sergio Ramos netted two headers at the Allianz Arena inside 20 minutes, and with a 1-0 lead from the first leg in tow, Pep Guardiola's men suddenly needed four goals to qualify.
Cristiano Ronaldo added a brace, completing a true rout, and making it 4-0.