Ahead of the end of 2019 and the start of a new decade, over the past few days we’ve looked back at some of the biggest football stories to take place this year month-by-month. This time we’re going back to April. If you would like to look at our previous recaps, click on the relevant title below.
2019 Football Recap - April
Tottenham open their new stadium
April of 2019 was an historic month for Tottenham, as after playing their home games at Wembley for the entire 17/18 season and the majority of the 18/19 season, they returned to White Hart Lane. Despite being located in the exact same spot as the old White Hart Lane, Tottenham’s new stadium stadium was referred to as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Despite the first 2 games at the stadium being an under-18 game between Tottenham and Southampton and a Tottenham Legends match against Inter in March, the official opening ceremony of the stadium was Tottenham’s game against Crystal Palace on the 3rd of April. Heung-min Son opened the scoring and became the first Tottenham player to score at the stadium, with Christian Eriksen scoring Tottenham’s second and giving Tottenham a 2-0 victory in their first game at the stadium.
Champions League Quarter-Finals - First Legs
All 4 English sides were involved in the Champions League quarter-finals, with one fixture being an all-English clash between Tottenham and Manchester City. In their second game at their new stadium, Tottenham hosted Manchester City in their first leg tie and got off to a terrible start after Manchester City were given a penalty. Up-stepped Hugo Lloris who denied Sergio Aguero to keep the score at 0-0. Heung-min Son put Tottenham ahead in the second half to give them a 1-0 lead going into the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
The other Manchester representative saw Manchester United host Barcelona at Old Trafford, with a single goal once again being the difference between the 2 sides. A Luke Shaw own goal after 12 minutes put Barcelona ahead, with Manchester United failing to find an equaliser. Meaning they had the tough task of needing a winner in the return leg at the Nou Camp if they wanted to advance to the semi-finals.
The final English side saw Liverpool face Porto at Anfield in the first leg and got off to a perfect start as goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino gave Liverpool a 2 goal lead going into the second leg.
After their incredible 4-1 victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu during the previous round, Ajax faced another tough test as they hosted Juventus. Cristiano Ronaldo put the Italian side ahead during the 45th minute, with David Neres grabbing an equaliser on the 46th minute. Juventus went into the second leg with the advantage, but Ajax were still very much in the tie. Find all the results for the first leg knockout games here:
- Tottenham 1-0 Manchester City
- Liverpool 2-0 Porto
- Ajax 1-1 Juventus
- Manchester United 0-1 Barcelona
Champions League Quarter-Finals - Second Legs
Manchester United faced a tough task in the return leg at the Nou Camp as they trailed 1-0 going into the return leg against Barcelona. The tie looked to be all over after Lionel Messi opened the scoring after 16 minutes, with Messi grabbing his second 4 minutes later after a mistake from David de Gea. Philippe Coutinho added the Manchester United’s misery as his long-range effort gave Barcelona a third goal and a 4-0 aggregate lead.
One of the games of the season saw Manchester City host Tottenham in their quarter-final return leg. Goals from Heung-min Son, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva in the first-half gave Manchester City a 3-2 lead going into half-time, with Tottenham as it stood going through on away goals. Sergio Aguero scored just before the hour mark to give City a 4-2 lead and a 4-3 lead, before Fernando Llorente scored Tottenham’s third 14 minutes later. Raheem Sterling looked set to have given City a place in the semi-finals after his injury time goal, but unfortunately for City, the goal was disallowed by VAR for offside. The game finished 4-3 and Tottenham advanced to the semi-finals on away goals.
Ajax went into the return leg against Juventus needing a win or a 4 goal draw if they wanted to qualify for the semi-finals. They looked in trouble as Cristiano Ronaldo put Juventus ahead after 28 minutes to give them a 2-1 lead before Donny van de Beek scored an equaliser to bring the tie level once again. Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt stepped up for his side and put them ahead after 67 minutes to put the Dutch side ahead on aggregate. Juventus couldn’t find an equaliser and Ajax went on to win the tie on aggregate and qualify for the semi-finals.
Liverpool were well on their way to the semi-finals for the second time in 2 seasons after their 2-0 victory over Porto in the first leg. Liverpool made sure the job was done in the second leg as they beat Porto 4-1 in Portugal to give them a 6-1 aggregate lead and would join, Tottenham, Ajax and Barcelona in the semi-finals. Find all the results for the second leg knockout games here:
- Juventus 1-2 Ajax (2-3)
- Barcelona 3-0 Manchester United (4-0)
- Manchester City 4-3 Tottenham (4-4)
Porto 1-4 Liverpool (1-6)
Champions League Semi-Final - First Leg
The final day of April saw the first Champions League semi-final first leg, as Tottenham hosted Ajax at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. After scoring a vital goal in the previous round against Juventus, Donny van de Beek stepped up for Ajax once again and put the Dutch side ahead after 15 minutes. That would prove to be the final goal of the game, and Ajax would return to the Johan Cruyff Arena with a 1 goal aggregate lead ahead of the second leg.
Europa League Quarter-Finals - First Legs
An all-English Europa League final was still on the cards as both Arsenal and Chelsea were kept apart in their quarter-final clashes, with Chelsea facing Czech side Slavia Praha, and Arsenal facing a tough test against Napoli. Both sides got off to winning starts as Arsenal beat Napoli 2-0 at the Emirates and Chelsea won 1-0 in Prague. The other quarter-finals consisted of Benfica who faced Eintracht Frankfurt, and an all-Spanish clash between Valencia and Villarreal. In the first leg between Benfica and Eintracht Frankfurt in Lisbon, a young Joao Felix announced himself to the world as the 19-year-old scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win. Find all the results for the first leg knockout games here:
- Arsenal 2-0 Napoli
- Slavia Praha 0-1 Chelsea
- Benfica 4-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
- Villarreal 1-3 Valencia
Europa League Quarter-Finals - Second Legs
The following week saw the second leg ties of the Europa League quarter-finals, with both Arsenal and Chelsea going into the return legs with the lead. A first-half goal from Alexandre Lacazette put the tie to bed and gave Arsenal a 3-0 aggregate victory and a place in the semi-finals, Chelsea on the other hand had a bit more difficulty against Slavia Praha after the Czech side scored 3 goals to give Chelsea a late scare, but 4 goals gave Chelsea a 4-3 victory at Stamford Bridge and a 5-3 aggregate victory. Find all the results for the second leg knockout games here:
- Valencia 2-0 Villarreal (5-1)
- Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 Benfica (4-4)
- Napoli 0-1 Arsenal (0-3)
- Chelsea 4-3 Slavia Praha (5-3)
April was a huge month for the Premier League, as we were reaching the business end of: the title race, the race for the top 4 and the race to avoid relegation. Manchester City went into April 1 point clear of Liverpool at the top of the table, but had 2 tough games against Tottenham and Manchester United ahead of them. City had a perfect league record during April and won all 5 of their games, including a 1-0 win over Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium, and a 2-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Liverpool kept up the pace with Manchester City and won all 4 of their Premier League games, including a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Anfield. The perfect record for both clubs meant that City maintained their place at the top of the table going into May, with Liverpool still only 1 point behind them.
It looked like the honeymoon period under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was over at Manchester United as United won only 1 of their 5 Premier League games in April, including defeats against: Wolves, Everton and Manchester City, as well as dropping points in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford. As a result of their poor results during April, United found themselves 3 points behind the top 4. Chelsea on the other hand found themselves in a good position going into May, as despite winning only 2 of their 5 Premier League games in April, they were 2 points clear in fourth place, and 3 points clear of Manchester United in 6th. Tottenham were almost guaranteed a place in the top 4 at the end of April as they were 4 points clear of Arsenal in 5th place with 2 games remaining.
After losing 24 of their opening 33 Premier league games, Fulham became the second team to be relegated from the Premier League, with Huddersfield joining them.
April also produced some Premier League history, as during Southampton’s game with Watford at Vicarage Road on the 23rd of April, Shane Long scored the fastest goal in Premier League history as he put the Saints 1-0 up after 7.69 seconds. Despite the early goal, Southampton couldn’t celebrate the achievement with a win as they could only draw 1-1 with Watford.
Find below some of the key Premier League games that took place during April:
- Wolves 2-1 Manchester United
- Everton 1-0 Arsenal
- Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea
- Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham
- Everton 4-0 Manchester United
- Arsenal 2-3 Crystal Palace
- Wolves 3-1 Arsenal
- Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City
- Tottenham 0-1 West Ham (first away team to win at new stadium)
- Leicester City 3-0 Arsenal
- Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea
FA Cup Semi-Finals
April also saw the FA Cup semi-finals take place, with Manchester City facing Brighton and Watford facing Wolves. It was almost certain that Manchester City would ease past Brighton into the final, and an early goal from Gabriel Jesus was enough to give Manchester City the win and book them a place in the final.
The second semi-final between Watford and Wolves was more tricky to call. After going 2-0 up thanks to goals from Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez, Wolves looked well on their way to the final, but a goal from Gerard Deulofeu and an injury time penalty from Troy Deeney saw Watford come back to take the game to extra time. Deulofeu scored his third of the game in the first half of injury time to put Watford ahead, with the game finished 3-2 and Watford joining Manchester City in the final.
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