The first day of the Knockout Stage hosted the Quarterfinals and Semifinals of the eFootball™ Championship Pro 2022 tournament. After two days of Group Stage with top level matches, Celtic FC and AS Roma had finished on pole position in their respective groups and went straight through to the Semifinals. Celtic FC would play the winners of the FC Barcelona-FC Bayern München quarterfinal and AS Roma would play the winner of the AS Monaco-Galatasaray SK match in the same round.
The matchday left some very close encounters that only went to the third game on one occasion, in the semifinals between FC Bayern and Celtic FC. After defeating the Culers in the quarters in just two games, the Scots forced the Germans to play a third game in which FCB_Alguacil finally woke up from his lethargy and got his first victory in the championship to give his team the pass. On the other side of the table, Nekza confirmed himself as one of the best players of the moment by winning both his quarter and semifinal matches, scoring 6 more goals and climbing to the top of the scoring charts with 15 goals. Usmakabyle was his ally in the Monegasques' run to the final, after he defeated Kepa_PFC in the quarter-finals and ASR_URMA43 in the semi-finals. FC Bayern and AS Monaco will therefore be the protagonists of a final perhaps unexpected after the irregular results of both teams in the Group Stage.
Prior to the start of the four matches of the day the Best Goal of Matchday 2 for Group A was announced and awarded to Kams10_ from Manchester United for his great goal against Celtic’s Kilzyou. The Best Goal of Matchday 2 for Group B was also awarded to THE PALMA from FC Barcelona for his great goal against AS Roma’s ASR_URMA43, which according to the selection committee was a “wonderful passing soccer play just like real Barcelona”.
QUARTERFINAL 1: FC BARCELONA VS FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN*
The first match of the Knockout Stage was the Quarterfinal between FC Barcelona and FC Bayern München. The Catalans had gone through as group runners-up after AS Roma had overtaken them at the top of the table the previous matchday. Captain THE PALMA and ROKSA had emerged as the top scorers of the Group Stage with 12 goals for the former and 9 for the latter, making Barça a feared goal scorer. In the other hand, FC Bayern München had managed to sneak into the Quarterfinals in the last match thanks to the great performances of another top scorer FCB_Mestre, with 9 goals. The Bavarians knocked out a disappointing Manchester United, who held on to third place until the very last moment. These quarterfinals will be one of the most awaited matches of the day and the winner here will face Celtic FC, who already awaits in the Semifinals.
GAME 1: THE PALMA 0 - 0 FCB_JOSE
The first game of the Quarterfinals between FC Barcelona and FC Bayern München would bring together the two captains of each team: THE PALMA and FCB_Jose. The former was the top scorer of the championship so far, with two wins and one loss in his track-record, while FCB_Jose had only one win, one draw and one loss. The match started with the initiative in attack of the German team and had several dangerous arrivals in the first half. The score was 0-0 at halftime and in the second half THE PALMA had a couple of clear chances to take the lead until the 90 minutes of the match ended with no goals on the scoreboard. The same story was repeated in extra time in which neither team managed to get close enough to break the deadlock. In the end, the match went to penalties. FC Bayern kicked off and the first shot from each team was saved by the opposing goalkeeper. In the end, a hit to the post by THE PALMA on their third penalty condemned him to defeat after FCB_JOSE converted the remaining two penalties. 4-2 in the penalty shootout and FC Bayern München took the first victory of the Quarterfinals.
GAME 2: ROKSA 0 - 1 FCB_MESTRE
Second Quarterfinal game after FC Bayern München's victory in the penalty shootout and ROKSA who would have to secure the second victory for FC Barcelona in order to stay alive. In front of him was one of the players who was doing the best campaign so far, FCB_Mestre. Both tied on goals with 9, both taking the fate of their teams on their backs. The game began very evenly matched in terms of strength and opportunities. The tension of the moment was palpable in the atmosphere and no player dared to risk more than necessary. In the 39th minute, FCB_Mestre took the lead with an excellent finish into the top corner, bringing the German team closer to the semifinals. With the score at 1-0, the game went to the break and the second half continued at a similar pace. ROKSA tried to get closer to their opponents' goal to force an equalizer, but Mestre remained solid in defense and counterattacked dangerously. In the last 15 minutes ROKSA increased the pressure and had one last good chance on the final whistle, but in the end the score remained 1-0 at the end of the 90 minutes. FC Bayern München eliminated FC Barcelona and, without the need of a third game, advanced to the semifinals where they would face Celtic FC.
QUARTERFINAL 2: AS MONACO VS GALATASARAY SK
Second Quarterfinal between Monaco and Turkey. The former had qualified as runners-up in Group A after securing points against Manchester United and FC Bayern München led by the new revelation of the tournament, Nekza. The young Frenchman was coming off the back of a fine group stage campaign that had seen him hold his team together when world champions Usmakabyle and GuiFera were not yet at their best. On the other side, the Turks had managed to qualify ahead of Arsenal FC captained by a superb Mucahit21 who had taken 7 of his team's 13 points.
GAME 1: NEKZA 2 - 0 MUCAHIT21
The first match of the second Quarterfinal of the day pitted promising youngster Nekza against Turkish captain Mucahit21. Both were coming off the back of two spectacular Group Stage rounds and were now facing each other to give their team an important first win. The match started very evenly with both teams looking for the opposition goal, especially Nekza, who had two early chances to score what in the 15th minute would become the first goal of the match. The young Nekza kept the score intact throughout the first half and much of the second half, despite a few dangerous Mucahit21 attacks. In the 81st minute, Nekza sealed the game with his second and brought the Monegasques closer to the Semifinals, pending what his teammate Usmakabyle would do in the next match.
GAME 2: USMAKABYLE 4 - 2 KEPA_PFC
Second game after Nekza's victory for AS Monaco and Galatasaray SK, who were starting to face elimination if they did not win now. Facing the world champion Usmakabyle, who was having a lukewarm performance for what we are used to, was the European champion KEPA_PFC, so this game summoned two heavyweights of the eFootball world. The match began with a surprising and quick goal by Usmakabyle in the 4th minute to which Kepa_PFC was able to respond quickly with the equalizer in the 21st minute thanks to a penalty. In the 42nd minute the Serbian took the lead with a great shot by Gomis, but just a minute later an angry Usmakabyle brought the match back to a draw. When it looked like we would go in at 2-2 at half-time in the 45th minute +4 the referee awarded a penalty to AS Monaco and Usmakabyle converted it to make it 2-3 going into the break. The second half continued with the frenetic dynamic of the first half but this time without goals until in the 86th minute Usmakabyle signed AS Monaco's pass to the Semifinals with the 2-4. Galatasaray SK were eliminated after their two defeats and AS Monaco would face a tough AS Roma in the semifinals.
SEMIFINAL 1: CELTIC FC VS FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN
Celtic FC arrived at the Semifinals rested after having obtained a direct BYE thanks to their first position in Group A. The Scots were coming off the back of a superb group stage in which their captain Kilzyou had been awarded the Player of the Match in Group A. Lotfi and Aazbabysk had also put in good performances to earn the Celtic team a place in the Semifinals. The meeting between the two teams on the first matchday ended with 6 points for the UK team and 3 for the Germans, who only won with FCB_Mestre against Lotfi.
GAME 1: KILZYOU 1 - 2 FCB_JOSE
The first encounter of the Semifinals brought together again the two captains of both teams, who had already faced each other on matchday 1 of the current championship, with a 1-0 victory for the French player. This time FCB_Jose had studied his opponent well, as he put Kilzyou under high pressure that limited the French player's chances. The Spaniard took the lead in the 10th minute of the match and from then on he held firm enough defensively to reduce Kilzyou's dangerous moves to almost a minimum. At the end of the first half Kilzyou had two clear chances to go to the break with a draw, which in the end was not such. In the second half, Kilzyou increased the number of chances on goal, but the Bavarian team held and surprised in the 78th minute with the 0-2 on a rebound after hitting the post previously. Kilzyou reacted quickly and just 6 minutes later pulled one back to make the last 10 minutes a heated scenario. After several changes in the formation of both teams, Kilzyou laid siege to the German goal, but finally the referee's whistle signaled the end of the match with a 1-2 victory for Bayern and FCB_Jose taking his revenge on Kilzyou.
GAME 2: LOTFI 2 - 1 FCB_MESTRE
FC Bayern München were just one game away from the Semifinals after a difficult Group Stage for them and having to overcome a high-scoring FC Barcelona. FCB_Mestre, who had beaten Lotfi 2-3 in the Group stage, would defend the Bavarian jersey against a Lotfi side under pressure to deliver a win for their team to avoid elimination. The match began with the tension of a tie of this calibre. Lotfi met the post in the 22nd minute from a corner and the Germans held on with a 0-0 draw until half-time. Soon in the second half FCB_Mestre delivered an excellent corner to the far post which found the head of Lewandowski to make it 1-0 in the 55th minute. Lotfi despaired at the passivity of his goalkeeper, but he soon restored parity in the 68th minute. Lotfi was not prepared for the Celtic adventure to end in the Semifinals, so in the 74th minute, he turned the score around to make it 1-2 for the Scots. The Germans laid siege to the Scottish defence to force a 2-2 draw but Lotfi applied himself defensively and finally managed to seal the comeback and sign the second vendetta of the evening. Celtic FC took the win, forcing the tie into a third game for the first time on the day.
GAME 3: AAZBABYSK 1 - 2 FCB_ALGUACIL
Final and key match for both teams after having shared a victory for each one in the two previous matches. Aazbabysk had shown their soccer strength with two wins and a draw in the group stage with 5 goals scored. One of those victories had come precisely against FCB_Alguacil by 2-1. The FC Bayern player had lost all the matches played in the group stage, so this match was the ideal stage for him to make amends and show what he was worth. And so the Spaniard started with an early goal in the 13th minute, Alguacil settled firmly on the pitch, but a terrible mistake by the Bavarian goalkeeper gave the Celtic striker Hatate a goal on a plate. In the 32nd minute, it was a 1-1 draw and the match went to the break with no major surprises. Just after coming back from the second half, FCB_Alguacil took the lead again in the 48th minute and Aazbabysk was faced with the difficult task of coming back from a very evenly matched game. FCB_Alguacil was aware of the situation and adopted a conservative stance, keeping the ball away from Aazbabysk. The last 15 minutes of the match Celtic FC increased the pressure, but FC Bayern München held on and the Semifinal died with the score 1-2. Celtic FC were eliminated and FCB_Alguacil silenced the haters by securing a place in the final for FC Bayern München.
SEMIFINAL 2: AS ROME VS AS MONACO
The last place in the finals at stake between the Romans and Monaco. AS Roma had won direct passage to the Semifinals by finishing top of their group. The Italians had had a great campaign captained by an exceptional ASR_URMA43 who had been considered the Best Player in Group B and who was accompanied by a solid Gagliardo28 and another of the revelations of the tournament, the also Italian ASR_STIFFLER. Facing them was an AS Monaco side that had gone from strength to strength thanks to good performances from Nekza and an increasingly confident Usmakabyle.
GAME 1: Gagliardo28 2 - 4 Nekza
The last Semifinal would start with Gagliardo28 defending the Roman shirt and Nekza doing the same for the Monegasques. The Italian had yet to win any of the matches played, getting 2 draws and a defeat, and in front of him was an in-form Nekza who was climbing up the goalscoring charts. The match started with the earliest goal of the championship so far. Two minutes were enough for Nekza to take the lead and only 10 minutes to double the difference and become the top scorer with 13 goals. At 0-2 down so early, Gagliardo28 had to take a different approach and began to attack more assiduously, but the game went 0-2 at half-time. After the break, Nekza scored a hat-trick in the 60th minute and although Gagliardo28 pulled one back in the 77th minute, Nekza made it 4-1 in the 83rd minute. A penalty from the Romans reduced the deficit in stoppage time, but it was not enough to prevent AS Monaco's first win on their way to the final and see Nekza become the tournament's top scorer with 15 goals.
GAME 2: ASR_URMA43 1 - 2 Usmakabyle
The star match of the day would be the one between two of the best players of the moment: ASR_URMA43 versus Usmakabyle. The former had been awarded Best Player of Group B, while the reputation of 3-time world champion Usmakabyle already spoke for itself. The setting could not have been better and the match could not have got off to a more electric start. In the first minute of the match, Usmakabyle took the title of fastest goal of the tournament away from his teammate Nekza by scoring the first goal of the match. ASR_URMA43 started off having to row against the run of play, but he pulled on his skills and in the 39th minute brought the score back to level terms. The same draw would come at half-time and the second half would start just as evenly matched. In the 65th minute, Usmakabyle broke the deadlock with a great goal from Ben Yedder and brought the Semifinals even closer to Monegasque territory. The last 20 minutes ASR_URMA43 tried to get the equalizer, but Usmakabyle kept the score unchanged and the match died with the 1-2 in favor of the Monegasques. AS Roma were eliminated in the second game and AS Monaco reached the final for the third year in a row, all of them with Usmakabyle in their squad. None of the previous finals were won, and we will see if tomorrow's final against FC Bayern München will be the definitive one for the three-time world champions.
Tomorrow the 3rd/4th place match will be held first. Then the most awaited moment of the year will come with the Grand Final of the tournament between FC Bayern München and AS Monaco at 14:00 CET. The program will be streamed live on the eFootball's official YouTube and Facebook channels.
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