Manchester City and Real Madrid, two of the betting favorites to win the UEFA Champions League, picked up road wins to open the round of 16. Manchester City picked up a 3-1 win in Denmark to defeat FC Copenhagen at the Parken Stadium. In the other game on Tuesday, Real Madrid used a second-half goal from Brahim Diaz to win at RB Leipzig. The return legs in these ties are not for three weeks. Still, Real Madrid and Manchester City have a foot in the door to reach the last-eight of the competition.

In the first half of both games, one game stood out as the more exciting of the pair. Manchester City, riding the back of Kevin De Bruyne’s return, scored the first goal of the 2023/24 Champions League knockout stage. Since the Belgian’s return from injury, he has scored or assisted in five of City’s six games. In the 10th minute, Phil Foden slid a clever pass between the lines to put De Bruyne in the box. The midfielder had a tight angle, but he picked out a perfect shot to slide the ball beyond Copenhagen goalkeeper Kamil Grabara.

However, Copenhagen did not back down. Magnus Mattsson, making his debut with Copenhagen in the Champions League, connected perfectly with a ball outside of the box. Copenhagen pounced on a distribution error from Ederson before Mattsson curled a ball in from 20 yards away to beat a helpless Ederson.

Manchester City holds edge in Champions League round of 16

The game remained open temporarily, but De Bruyne turned into a provider in first-half stoppage time. He placed a tackle on a Copenhagen defender that bobbled into the path of Bernardo Silva. A clever flick from the Portuguese beat Grabara to re-establish City’s lead.

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A calmer second half followed as Manchester City put the game to bed. Once again, it was De Bruyne to be instrumental for Manchester City. Interplay with Phil Foden allowed Manchester City to extend its lead with the final kick of the game. Even though Manchester City is not at much risk of crashing out, that third goal and a two-goal lead could be crucial.

Nervy Real Madrid wins at Leipzig

Real Madrid has the third-best odds to win the Champions League, which would be the club’s 15th title. However, it was far from a perfect performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s side in Germany on Tuesday. The absence of Jude Bellingham was noted, as Brahim Diaz stepped into the attacking midfield. In fact, it was Leipzig to have the best chance in the first half. After Real Madrid cleared a corner, Leipzig scored on the second ball in. A Leipzig player was standing behind Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, and a slight bump was enough for the referee to deem the play offside.

In the second half, Jude Bellingham’s replacement scored a sensational solo goal to deliver the match-winner. The Spaniard picked up the ball miles from goal before beating a handful of RB Leipzig defenders. He released a long-range curler with his left foot that beat the RB Leipzig goalkeeper. That was the difference on the night, and Diaz celebrated by doing Bellingham’s patented celebration.

Both of the reverse fixtures for this contest are on March 6. Coverage is available in the United States on Paramount+.

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