With the qualifications of Real Madrid and Manchester City, there will therefore be three Belgians in the semi-finals of the Champions League. If Eden Hazard, still recovering, did not play in the quarter-finals, Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne were once again invaluable in allowing their respective club to continue their journey in the most prestigious of European competitions.
But it is especially the Real Madrid goalkeeper who had the opportunity to stand out with several very beautiful parades against the Reds. The Spanish press was not mistaken. Marca qualified our compatriot as being “by far the best player on his team”, pointing it out as essential to the qualification of the Merengues: “Courtois’ mileage arms and the defensive rigor of the Madrilenians have established themselves as the main protagonists of Real Madrid’s qualification for the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
The daily was also delighted that the statistics were in favor of the Belgian: “He had never conceded two goals at Anfield Road. He made a great save in front of Salah to start. And in the 10th minute, he flies off to get a shot from Milner. Safe in the air. The second half- time started with another good Belgian stop “, detailed the Spanish daily before summing up his meeting in two words : “Fundamental, decisive: very good game.”
The newspaper Ace meanwhile put Courtois on the front page of its Thursday edition with the title “Invincible”. Here too, the performance of the number one goalkeeper of our national team was applauded with both hands: “Saint-Courtois!”, Even allowed himself the reigning ace in his columns, “Well, he saved Madrid. Starting with his stop in front of Salah. Without that, the game would have been different. But the Belgian did not go away. not content with that: flying off Milner’s attempt, blocking a point blank shot from Firmino, and a final one from Salah … A crack. “
Mundo Deportivo also pointed to the very good meeting of our international against the Reds in his edition of the day: “There was no goal at Anfield and it was in large part thanks to Courtois who stopped all the Reds’ attempts to reverse the score. Madrid played with their advantage in the first leg to just defend by giving up all offensive will but will be well in the semifinals. “
If the Spanish press was delighted with this titanic match of Courtois, the feeling was very different in England: “The game could have turned out differently. Especially in the opening minutes. Liverpool had several chances but they were all stopped by an excellent Courtois”, underlined the Liverpool Echo which pointed out that the mission of the Reds had proved impossible.
De Bruyne in Foden’s shadow
In the other meeting of the evening, Manchester City were hot against Borussia Dortmund but managed to avoid a fourth consecutive elimination in the quarter-finals. If the Skyblues captain Kevin De Bruyne once again delivered a very good meeting, particularly unlucky when his attempt hit the crossbar, it was the young Phil Foden who stole the show in the English press. The young Englishman scored the winning goal which allowed the Citizens to breathe late in the match.
Despite everything, the Manchester Evening News gave KDB a score of 8, the best score for Mancuniens with his English team-mate: “Again a performance of captain, leading the team well after being behind in the score. Unhappy in his attempt which hit the crossbar but he continued to lead the Mancunian offensives”, summed up the English daily.