Salah, Ronaldo, Benzema: when players return to haunt former clubs
The UEFA Champions League round of 16 will be the stage for a number of reunions – among others, Ángel Di María meets former club Manchester United, Leroy Sané faces Schalke, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar comes up against Real Madrid, while Samuel Umtiti will head back to Lyon.
UEFA.com trawls the history books and recalls famous continental meetings between players and their old teams. All headline scores are aggregate.
Mohamed Salah, Liverpool 7-6 Roma, 2017/18 semi-finals
When Roma sold Salah to Liverpool in 2017, there was no way they could have imagined the impact the Egyptian, who proceeded to score 44 goals in his debut campaign, would have on Merseyside. Two of those goals – the first a curling strike into the top corner, the second a dink over the onrushing goalkeeper – came against the Giallorossi in a 5-2 win in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg, with Salah eschewing a celebration both times.
Álvaro Morata, Juventus 3-2 Real Madrid, 2014/15 semi-finals
Morata, who scored home and away when Juventus eliminated Real Madrid in 2014/15, declined to celebrate on either occasion. “It was an important goal, but it leaves a bittersweet feeling,” the striker said of his second-leg equaliser against Real, whom he had left for Juve the previous summer. “I would have preferred to score against another team, but that’s life.”
David Luiz, Paris 3-3 Chelsea (Paris win on away goals), 2014/15 round of 16
The Brazilian quit Chelsea for Paris in June 2014, but was back nine months later to end his former club’s hopes of a quarter-final berth. After a 1-1 first-leg draw, Paris were reduced to ten men early on in London and Gary Cahill’s 81st-minute header appeared to have settled matters. David Luiz flicked in from a corner five minutes later, however, sending the tie to extra time and sparking wild celebrations. “I need to say sorry because I said if I scored I wouldn’t celebrate, but there was too much emotion to keep in,” he said after Paris sealed qualification thanks to a second equaliser, from fellow defender Thiago Silva.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke 4-5 Real Madrid, 2014/15 round of 16
Huntelaar’s return with Ajax in this season’s round of 16 will summon memories of his last visit to the Spanish capital as an opposition player – when the Dutch ace did not quite manage to eliminate Real Madrid with Schalke, but did succeed in giving the record European champions an almighty fright. Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, the German club won 4-3 at the Bernabéu in March 2015, Huntelaar’s double almost inspiring one of the all-time great comebacks.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester United, 2012/13 round of 16
The forward had moved from United to Madrid almost four years before this tie, but this was his first reunion with the side where he made his name. Ronaldo’s first-leg equaliser at the Bernabéu laid the foundations for an aggregate triumph, and he also struck in the return as Madrid came from behind to win against ten men. “I feel happy for Madrid to go through to the next round, but on the other hand I feel a bit sad because it is not easy to forget this home,” said the Portuguese, who received an emotional Old Trafford reception.
Karim Benzema, Real Madrid 4-1 Lyon, 2010/11 round of 16
Madrid had never scored at Lyon’s old Stade de Gerland home until Benzema – a product of OL’s academy – found the net within minutes of coming on in the teams’ last-16 first leg in February 2011. The attacker chose not to celebrate; likewise when he notched in a 3-0 Bernabéu victory almost a month later, eliminating Lyon at the same stage they had knocked out Real the previous season. “Why would I celebrate scoring against Lyon? I grew up here and all my family and friends are still here. It’s thanks to Lyon that I play for Madrid,” he told UEFA.com.
Fernando Morientes, Monaco 5-5 Real Madrid (Monaco win on away goals), 2003/04 quarter-finals
In tandem with Raúl González, Morientes helped fire Madrid to three UEFA Champions League crowns, spending six years at the Bernabéu before going on loan to Monaco in 2003/04. When the principality team and his parent club were paired in the quarter-finals, the No9 struck in both legs – getting a standing ovation at the Bernabéu – as Monaco recovered from a 4-2 first-leg defeat to edge Real on away goals. “I’m a Madridista, but I’m also a professional and I owe it to my team,” he said. “I know it’s a blow for my former team-mates.”