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Five Champions League things to know: Barcelona’s exit, Tom Savage’s Man United debut, Salzburg reach last 16

It was an eventful night of Champions League action as the final matchday got extended due to snow, and RB Salzburg reached the last 16 for the very first time.

1. Atalanta vs. Villarreal postponed 

Heavy snowfall meant the crucial Group F fixture between Atalanta and Villarreal in Bergamo was moved to Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, on Paramount+.

The game was originally just pushed back 20 minutes, but the blizzard-like conditions at the Stadio di Bergamo made it impossible to start. Villarreal nonetheless came out to applaud their travelling fans and apologize for the postponement. 

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Atalanta’s stadium was still covered in snow just minutes before Wednesday’s scheduled kick-off. Getty Images

Officials had preemptively ordered an orange ball and requested the field lines be painted red for better visibility, but with so much at stake for both sides, the game was rearranged before a ball was kicked.

Villarreal only need a draw to progress, while Atalanta must win the match or must settle for a Europa League knockout playoff. They are guaranteed third-place, though, after Youngs Boys drew 1-1 at Manchester United.

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.

2. Manchester United debuts for Savage and Heaton

Manchester United had already won Group F before their final game, but it was still a special night for Charlie Savage and Tom Heaton.

The 18-year-old Savage made his United debut after coming on as a substitute. His proud father, Robbie — a former trainee at Old Trafford — was brought to tears by the moment whilst working as a pundit at the match for British broadcaster BT Sport.

Heaton was also handed his United debut and made history in the process. At 35 years and 237 days he became the oldest Englishman to make their UCL debut since Arsenal’s John Lukic in October 2000 (39 years 311 days).

Heaton has actually waited 16-years to play for the first team after failing to get a game in his first spell with the club between 2005-10.

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Heaton re-joined Manchester United in July after being released by Aston Villa. Getty Images

3. Muller condemns Barcelona to Europa League 

Xavi was unable to guide Barcelona into the Champions League knockout stage as they missed out on qualification for the first time since 2000.

Thomas Muller scored the opener in Bayern Munich’s resounding 3-0 victory at the Allianz. Muller thus became just the eighth player to score 50+ Champions League goals, and is the first German to do so. 

Meanwhile, Barcelona have now conceded an alarming 17 goals in their last four meetings with Bayern. Xavi told CBS Sports that the club is going through “a period of reflection,” but stressed he’s hopeful of a new and brighter era starting soon. 

4. An Austrian first 

Salzburg are the first Austrian side to make it through to the knockout stage of the Champions League after a 1-0 victory over Sevilla, sparking emotional full-time scenes.

Matthias Jaissle’s side clinched second spot in Group G thanks to Noah Okafor’s strike just before half-time in a game American Brenden Aaronson started.

Benfica also qualified, leapfrogging Barcelona, following a routine 2-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv. And Lille’s in-form Canadian forward Jonathan Lille was amongst the scorers as the French side booked their place in the last 16.

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The 33-year-old Jaissle has won 21 of his 28 games in charge since taking over in January.  Getty Images

5. Werner breaks history; Ozdoev hearts

Timo Werner became Chelsea’s fastest ever Champions League scorer. The German needed just 83 seconds to give his side the lead at Zenit, surpassing the 86-seconds it took for John Terry to score against Schalke back in November 2014.

In an entertaining game, Chelsea recovered from 2-1 down to take a late 3-2 lead after Christian Pulisic assisted Werner for his second. But Magomed Ozdoyev’s spectacular injury-time goal ensured a pulsating contest ended all square to deny Chelsea top spot in Group H. 

The defending champions finish second behind Juventus, who beat Malmo 1-0. Moise Kean scored his first UCL goal and then hit the Griddy to celebrate.

The dance — inspired by Kenneth Brother’s song “Griddy” — first went viral in 2020 across the NFL when Minnesota Vikings Justin Jefferson used it to enter the end zone and secure his first career touchdown.

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