Borussia Dortmund and Jurgen Klopp
Dortmund made light work of their second-leg tie against Shakhtar Donetsk to ease to a 3-0 win on the night and a 5-2 aggregate victory. To emphasise Dortmund's achievement, the last time Shakhtar lost by a margin as heavy as Tuesday's defeat was on May 1, 2011 in a 3-0 loss to Dynamo Kiev. The Ukrainian champions have only lost three of their last 42 competitive matches and, although they have just started the new season, it was still a surprise to see Mircea Lucescu's side despatched with such little fuss.
"This game ranks very high for us personally and it is an extraordinary moment," said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.
"The entire Champions League season has been running very smoothly for us. Shakhtar showed their quality in the second half but we delivered a fantastic performance for 80 minutes in this game."
Few can argue with the coach's claims about how confidently his team have settled into this year's competition, and yet Dortmund are still ranked outside the favourites to lift the trophy they last won in 1997. Real Madrid currently lead the odds, despite scraping through against Manchester United, with Bayern Munich second and Barcelona, who still have to overcome a 2-0 first leg defeat against AC Milan, ranked third.
Although Bayern slaughtered Arsenal in the first leg of their last-16 tie, the Gunners hardly made life difficult for them, crumbling at the back in familiar fashion. The Bundesliga leaders also progressed from a relatively straightforward group, in which they still managed to lose 3-1 to BATE Borisov. Dortmund, meanwhile, haven't lost a single game at this stage, despite being drawn in the 'group of death' where they picked up four points against Real Madrid and four against Manchester City (which perhaps isn't such a significant achievement).
Of course, Bayern's astonishing 17-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga underlines how much stronger they have been in Germany this season, while Juup Heynckes' team also deserved more than a 1-0 victory over Dortmund in a DFB Pokal cup clash on February 27. But Dortmund have won five and drawn one of their last eight matches against Bayern - a run that stretches back to October 2010 - and having allowed such an enormous gap to open up at the top of the table, it's clear that the Champions League is now their priority.
We have already seen that they are better than the favourites, Real Madrid, and they could certainly beat Barcelona in current form, with the La Liga leaders facing an incredibly difficult task against a recently revived AC Milan side that are capable of grabbing a crucial away goal at Camp Nou. It seems that Dortmund are perhaps being dismissed rather easily, when they should rightly be viewed as more than mere dark horses.
With star trio Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski all starring on Tuesday, Dortmund should be seen as a serious threat in the quarter-finals. The league has gone; they are playing for everything in this competition.
Furthermore, Klopp's meticulous preparation will stand Dortmund in good stead for the quarter-finals. The manager has achieved where Roberto Mancini failed in the Champions League - masterminding an aggregate victory over City and also recognising Xabi Alonso's importance to Real Madrid to top Group D ahead of Jose Mourinho's side.
As we saw on Tuesday at Old Trafford, when Sir Alex Ferguson deployed Danny Welbeck in a man-marking role against Alonso, Mourinho has few answers to the nullification of his deep-lying playmaker and Dortmund should be favourites should the two teams meet again in the next round.
Into the quarter-finals and still unbeaten in this year's competition. Juventus have scored the most goals so far (19) and conceded the fewest (four) with Celtic brushed aside in the manner one would expect.
As well as possessing a scoring record that is often overlooked in Serie A - perhaps owing to the absence of a significant leading scorer (Fabio Quagliarella leads the way with seven in the league) - Juventus are incredibly difficult to beat, as Napoli found out to their cost last Friday. The Neapolitans needed a win against Juve to close the gap at the top of the table and ensure an exciting finale to the title race, but they could only manage a 1-1 draw as the Old Lady rarely appeared flustered, certainly not as flustered as Edinson Cavani, who Robert Huth-ed Giorgio Chiellini in the first half.
Although there are occasions when Juve fail to fire in the final third, they have lost only six of their last 80 competitive fixtures, remaining undefeated in Serie A last season and looking likely to achieve back-to-back title victories in the current campaign. Their defence is as sound as any in the tournament - including Bayern's remarkable back four - and they will be a tough test for any opponent in the quarter-finals.
Seven goals in his last ten matches following just a single strike in his previous 13 appearances this season. The striker is coming into form at the right time.
Through, but fortunate, as Manchester United allowed Nani's red card to unravel them in a 13-minute collapse. Indeed, it was a surprise to see Real Madrid end the match with more men on the pitch, having received ten red cards already this season and eight in their previous 15 fixtures.
Tuesday's victory clearly hinged on Cuneyt Cakir's decision to dismiss Nani, but Jose Mourinho's immediate introduction of Luka Modric also played a vital role in victory. At once, Modric began to turn the screw, stretching United out of shape and drawing gaps in the defence before his stunning strike levelled the score. There was an obvious contrast to Welbeck's shepherding of Alonso, as Modric was allowed to roam at will between Real's midfield and attack, without any one player assigned to track his movement.
Mourinho seemed to struggle in the first leg, conceding that the game had been 'more tactical' for United as Real failed to find a way past the visitors' resilient defence. Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to move Welbeck onto Alonso in the second half at the Santiago Bernabeu was the key in-game change that helped to secure United a 1-1 draw and the advantage ahead of Tuesday's re-match.
At Old Trafford the roles were reversed as Mourinho reacted to the sending-off without delay. However fortunate Real may have been, Mourinho's swift action proved to be pivotal, as United failed to re-group and lost the tie within 13 frantic minutes. If the Portuguese had waited, Ferguson would have had more time to assess the damage and reinforce his team's shape for the onslaught in the last half-hour. Mourinho made the right decision at the right time to send his team into the quarter-finals.
It's perhaps worth noting that following Real's second goal, Mourinho made a rather poor substitution, inviting pressure by replacing Mesut Ozil with Pepe. United were suddenly allowed more possession and threatened to snatch an equaliser that would have ensured a tense finish to the game.
Although Real have now been installed as favourites for the competition - swayed by two Clasico victories over Barcelona in the space of a week - they are still some way below the standards they set last season. Mourinho admitted that his team would have struggled to win had Nani not been sent off, and the coach is perhaps left with more concerns than confidence as to how his team will perform in the quarter-finals.
"Manchester United were playing very well. They were very compact, they were very aggressive, very well organised technically and the match was very difficult for us," said Mourinho, recognising a performance by United which resembled his own approach on many previous occasions.
In his words and actions, Mourinho made it crystal clear that he would one day like to replace Ferguson, but whether United would embrace his pantomime arrogance - leaving early at both half and full-time, for example - is another question.
"I had a feeling that Modric would change the match because he brought to the game some qualities that we did not have on the pitch at the time," said Mourinho.
Modric has endured a frustrating first season in Madrid - starting just 17 matches in the league and Champions League - but he was signed for occasions such as Tuesday and didn't disappoint in his half-hour cameo. As Michael Cox of Zonal Marking noted, Real Madrid lacked exactly a player of Modric's cunning in their semi-final defeat to Bayern Munich last season, and the Croatian proved that he can make the difference.
PSG may be through to the quarter-finals for the first time in 18 years but good lord that was dull. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's importance to PSG was revealed in a lifeless 1-1 draw with Valencia and the Ligue 1 leaders will be glad to have the striker back from suspension in the next round.
Carlo Ancelotti's starting XI failed to impress at Parc des Princes, with Clement Chantome an odd pick on the right and Lucas Moura and Ezequiel Lavezzi isolated in attack. The introduction of Kevin Gameiro for Thiago Motta helped to provide some focus and fluency to PSG's play, and the striker assisted Lavezzi's equaliser eight minutes after his arrival. It's a shame for Gameiro that he'll find himself back on the bench when Zlatan returns.
Danny Welbeck Facing Away From Goal
I've said before in Winners and Losers that Welbeck does his best work when facing away from goal and the forward displayed superb discipline to track Alonso on Tuesday.
Danny Welbeck Facing Goal
Just two goals all season highlights the main flaw in Welbeck's game and the forward missed several good opportunities against Real Madrid to send United through to the quarter-finals. Physically and mentally Welbeck is excellent, but when it comes to actually using the ball he can occasionally be frustrating.
It was a remarkable achievement to get this far, but the end of Celtic's campaign leaves warnings for the road ahead.
"There have been some fantastic performances and various performances will have caught the eye throughout the competition," said Fraser Forster after Wednesday's defeat to Juventus.
"We'll just have to wait and see what happens in the summer. I wouldn't be surprised if one or two faces leave but no doubt we'll bring in a few as well."
The keeper should be at the top of the list of players likely to leave after his superb displays against Barcelona, while Neil Lennon may also attract the eye of several clubs during the summer merry-go-round. Considering the current state of Scottish football, it will be hard for Celtic to progress before their return to the Champions League next year, but they will certainly be treated with less derision when the qualifying rounds return.
It all ended rather abruptly for Shakhtar after their exciting performances in the group stage, with the loss of Willian and their lack of competitive football having a considerable impact on their exit. Until Donetsk time.
Valencia only managed eight shots against a PSG side that were there for the taking in Wednesday's drab affair. Although Jonas' brilliant strike put the La Liga side back in the tie, they failed to show the necessary urgency to trouble their opponents in the final half-hour and a Zlatan-led PSG should be much more entertaining to watch in the next round.
What else is there to say that hasn't already been said? I feel a bit like the chap who turns up to a surprise party an hour late. Surprise!
I could focus on United's 13-minute collapse following Nani's red card in which Ferguson failed to effectively restructure his team, but Paul Little has made that argument here.
I could make the point that United will look back on defeat with less torment than the two finals in which they were thoroughly outclassed by Barcelona, but Sarah Winterburn discusses that here.
I could debate the pros and cons of Nani's red card. On incidents such as the one we saw on Tuesday night, the question is usually "Do you think the challenge deserved a red?" when really it is more appropriate to ask "Can you see why the referee might feel the need to send him off?" Rob McNichol focuses more on the issues involved here.
Instead, I'd like to discuss the positives of United's campaign, despite a controversial conclusion that we're unlikely to ever be allowed to forget.
On March 15 last year, United lost 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao to exit the Europa League having already been eliminated from Europe's premier competition. A third-place finish behind Benfica and Basel in the group stage was an embarrassment; the late collapse to Man City in the Premier League, a disaster. An FA Cup defeat to Liverpool added salt amid the wounds of a frustrating season in which the focus was often on United's decline and the idea of a power shift in Manchester.
Just 12 months later, and United have an astonishing 12-point lead at the top of the table, an FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea to look forward to and the bitter regret of a Champions League exit in which Jose Mourinho claimed they were the stronger team. You may disagree with Sarah Winterburn's claim that a controversial defeat to Real will feel better than a humbling at the hands of Barca in years to come (and it will) but it's impossible to argue that Tuesday's loss isn't more satisfactory than the godawful efforts of 2011/12. United have come a long way in a short space of time.
Robin van Persie has obviously played a key role in the team's progress this year, along with Roberto Mancini, but the tactical nous of Ferguson and his backroom team was responsible for United arguably deserving to progress to the quarters ahead of Real Madrid. Although Ferguson perhaps should have done more in the immediate aftermath of Nani's red card (although I would argue that he did more than Paul suggests, with Welbeck moved off Alonso and towards the left), his system over the two legs was largely faultless. Unlike Arsene Wenger, Ferguson certainly cannot be questioned for a lack of thorough preparation.
Despite the unfortunate way in which United's Champions League campaign has ended, their performances bode well not only for Sunday, but the rest of the season and beyond. United have looked a much more cohesive unit this year, with the idea of the team valued above all else. The shift from relying on Wayne Rooney to the considerably more reliable Van Persie has been integral, but so has the rise of young players such as Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Jonny Evans and Rafael. The implosion I previously predicted never came, and United have now improved past the point of possible collapse. Tuesday was a low, but not in terms of effort or overall performance, and the future at Old Trafford is brighter than it has seemed for some time.
The streets are now full of children clapping sarcastically in people's faces.
There was nothing wrong with Keane's opinion that Nani should have been sent off, but he was over the top in the way he delivered his views. It appears Keane still has an axe to grind following his departure from United and he can often seem deliberately contrary towards his former employers. In truth, it was embarrassing to see him lose his cool and bring Nani's previous theatrics into the discussion. It's clear to anyone that the red card was debatable, but Keane denied the debate with his pathetic aggression.
Nick Miller discusses the striker's future in depth here, and few can argue that Rooney was harshly treated after his transfer request in 2010. Ferguson sounded almost pitying in his explanation of Rooney's absence, but don't be fooled - there is no pity for a player who treated the manager and the club with such little respect before his bumper new contract.
The goalkeeper's performance in Shakhtar's defeat to Chelsea in the group stage 'disgusted' Mircea Lucescu and the coach will be similarly disappointed with Pyatov's clumsy display against Dortmund.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.