Top Winners, Losers After Tuesday's Champions League Quarterfinals Leg 1 Results

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2021

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League quarterfinal first leg, soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Manchester City and Real Madrid have one foot in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League following Tuesday's quarterfinal play. 

Phil Foden netted a 90th-minute goal to propel City to a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, while Madrid earned a comprehensive 3-1 win against Liverpool.

Beyond the overall results, here are some winners and losers from the two fixtures.


Winner: Vinicius Junior

When it came to the Real Madrid attack, much of the focus centered around Karim Benzema, who had nine goals in his last seven appearances. Perhaps Liverpool put too much emphasis on the French striker and neglected to worry about Vinicius Junior.

Vinicius was subbed off in the 85th minute, thus finding himself unable to complete a hat trick. So he had to settle for scoring twice in the first leg.

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports


Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

Vinicius Junior. Again. 🇧🇷 https://t.co/X7cVAv8afW

The 20-year-old Brazilian was arguably Madrid's best player. Beyond his brace, he was a constant threat to Liverpool's defense.

B/R Football @brfootball

Vinicius Jr. vs. Liverpool: https://t.co/xB2gA836Ew

Gary Lineker 💙 @GaryLineker

Poor defending from @LFC but brilliantly exploited by Vinicius Junior. The Spanish giants lead.

Much has been made of Los Blancos' inability to replace Cristiano Ronaldo following his move to Juventus, and Vinicius has played a part in that. Across 73 La Liga appearances, he has just eight goals. But Tuesday was a reminder of the player he could still become over the next few seasons.


Loser: Trent Alexander-Arnold

Many were surprised when England coach Gareth Southgate omitted Trent Alexander-Arnold from the squad for the national team's most recent World Cup qualifiers. Alexander-Arnold responded by assisting on one of Liverpool's three goals in a Premier League victory over Arsenal.

Tuesday's defeat, however, will provide plenty of ammunition for those who believe the 22-year-old was rightfully left off the Three Lions. He gifted Madrid its second goal when he headed the ball straight into the path of Marco Asensio. 

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

That assist from Trent Alexander- Arnold 🙃 Marco Asensio says thank you 🤝 https://t.co/KNr82gXkPy

In general, Madrid looked to attack the left flank frequently in order to expose Alexander-Arnold's defensive frailties.

Jacob Steinberg @JacobSteinberg

It’s a real mystery.

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Trent Alexander Arnold suffering badly, but not getting much help from Salah or anyone else. Madrid clearly targeted area from start with Mendy and Vinicius.

The clock is ticking for Alexander-Arnold with the Euros rapidly approaching, and it's difficult to see him winning Southgate over after a performance like this.


Winners: Eder Militao, Nacho

Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane knew well ahead of time he'd be without Sergio Ramos for both legs against Liverpool. However, he only discovered hours before Tuesday's match Raphael Varane would be missing as well after testing positive for COVID-19.

That left Eder Militao and Nacho as the center-back partnership, and the pair excelled.

Nacho was largely to blame for Mohamed Salah's goal as he allowed the Liverpool forward to get in the box for a straightforward finish.

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

Mo Salah gets a huge away goal 💥 https://t.co/Vo6BnplGh6

Still, Liverpool finished with seven total shots, only one of which was on target.

Militao's effort was the far bigger surprise since he has made just seven appearances across La Liga and the Champions League.

Jack Lang @jacklang

Best I’ve seen Militão play for a long, long time

Michael Beale @MichaelBeale

Militao had probably his best performance for Madrid. Having seen him, Trent & Nat Phillips as younger academy players, each boys journey has been completely different to get on that pitch tonight and just shows how unique a career pathway can be! - Great to see

It's hard to see what more Zidane could've asked of his defense.


Winner: Phil Foden

Following an equalizer by Marco Reus in the 84th minute, it looked like Manchester City would have settle for a draw—a fair result given the performance by both clubs.

Foden had other ideas.

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

The cross from KDB. The touch and assist from Gundogan. The finish from Foden. 😯 https://t.co/8ka41adyrJ

The English midfielder got some help from Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan as the three demonstrated why the City attack has been so lethal over the last few months.

Foden may have provided an assist of his own after the match. Cameras caught him chatting up Dortmund star Erling Haaland, whose future is the subject of speculation.

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

Foden and Haaland having a chat. Nothing to see here 👀 https://t.co/sOGsS4tiho

BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport

🇳🇴 Haaland x Foden 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Best youngsters in world football... What's he saying to Foden here? 🤔 📲⚽ https://t.co/5Du5Yilmm1 #bbcfootball #UCL #MCIBVB https://t.co/KJnYR95Opd

In general, it's funny to think how not so long ago it looked like Manchester City needed to loan Foden out to further his development. Few players at the club have shown as much improvement in such a short amount of time under Pep Guardiola's watch.


Winner: Marcos Reus

As the club captain, nobody is probably feeling the weight of Dortmund's disappointing season more than Reus. Even in a losing effort, registering an away goal Tuesday has to help.

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports


No Borussia Dortmund player has scored more Champions League goals than the 31-year-old.

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

⚫️🟡 Marco Reus = Dortmund's all-time leading Champions League scorer (18) 👏 #UCL https://t.co/aBDpYtRplb

Still, Reus couldn't help but express his frustration about how his club let the draw slip out of its hands.

DW Sports @dw_sports

Marco Reus to @DAZN_DE on how important it was that Borussia Dortmund showed their better side: "We've been talking about consistency for a year. We've had too few games like tonight where we showed our level." #MCIBVB https://t.co/PBPur7Td85

If Dortmund can replicate this kind of showing in the second leg, then a comeback isn't out of the question. And that's not the worst possible outcome from Tuesday given how divergent the respective form of Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City has been.