Bloodied but unbowed, Barcelona secured a narrow 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester United on Wednesday.
For Barcelona it was a precious victory and for its captain, the mercurial Lionel Messi, there was a bloodied nose and a black eye courtesy of a Chris Smalling challenge.
United, while spirited, never really threatened and a trip to the Nou Camp for the return leg will not be one they will relish, as many have tried and failed.
On a quiet night for Messi, a 12th minute own goal by Luke Shaw, the defender deflecting the ball into his own net after Luis Suarez had headed across the six-yard area, proved the difference in a scrappy and often underwhelming affair.
Shaw’s own goal was initially ruled out for offside but then reinstated by VAR, the video assistant referee, as technology took centre stage in the Champions League for the second consecutive evening.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 125th Champions League goal of his career but it wasn’t enough to give Juventus victory as Ajax pegged back the Italian champions in Amsterdam.
Ronaldo headed home Joao Cancelos’ cross on the stroke of half-time to add to his tally as the competition’s all-time top goalscorer.
However, David Neres curled home for the hosts at the beginning of the second period to leave the quarter-final tie delicately poised at 1-1.
Ronaldo, who was playing for the first time since scoring a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in last month’s round of 16 tie may have just scored the goal that sees them through to the semi-finals.
Liverpool’s result should see them through to the last four barring a catastrophe.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will take a two-goal lead to Porto and the fact they achieved superiority playing as if they had more gears to find was the only obvious concession to ongoing domestic priorities.
It’s great to see the European nights back at Anfield on a regular basis; the Anfield ground certainly is a special place to be on these great occasions.
Spurs’ result against Manchester City is probably the only result that surprised many.
City, looking to create history by winning the quadruple, didn’t really get out of first gear against a Spurs side relishing playing at their new stadium.
It did come at a cost, losing Harry Kane with a recurrence of the ankle injury that has plagued him this season and one that will probably will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.
I think that City will still have a lot to say come the home leg next week.
Changing sport, one of my favourite competitions in the golf calendar got underway on Thursday.
The Masters, for me, is the best major of all, including the British Open.
It isn’t just because it hails the start of summer and the golf season in the UK but the course looks amazing and the difficulty, tests every aspects of the players’ game.
Favourites for this year will be the obvious two in Rory Mcllroy and Dustin Johnson but I think we may see Tommy Fleetwood elevate himself to superstardom or the fantastically talented Italian Francesco Molinari don the famous green jacket.