With Rangers producing yet another European upset, and Bristol Rovers’ final-day heroics to secure promotion from League Two, we’re looking at some of the week’s biggest Market Movers.
Although he may come up short in the Champions League, Karim Benzema will likely receive his fair share of personal accolades and awards over the next few months – starting with Champions League Top Goalscorer.
The Frenchman has put himself in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or with a string of sensational performances in the Champions League knockout rounds, to haul Real Madrid back from the brink on more than one occasion.
1-0 down to PSG from the first leg, having scored five goals in the tournament (Robert Lewandowski was on a meagre 11 at the same time…), Benzema was 100/1 to finish top scorer. His 17-minute hat-trick against PSG would drag Madrid into the quarter-finals, leaving him a 16/1 shot.
Across the two legs against Chelsea, Benzema would score four more, including another hat-trick, as his price was cut to 5/2, and after another three against Manchester City, he currently tops the charts on 15, seven goals ahead of Mohamed Salah, who he’ll meet in Paris.
In the Europa League, Rangers’ fairytale just goes on and on, with the prospect of a first European trophy since 1972 becoming very real.
And should they beat Frankfurt, no one can say they won’t have deserved it. Rangers were 150/1 for European success having lost their first two group games before drawing with Brondby, facing a must-win game with Sparta Prague. The Gers ended up going through with a game to spare and were 66/1.
Having navigated the first hurdle, they were faced with a giant one in Borussia Dortmund, but after that miraculous night in Germany followed by the 2-2 draw at Ibrox, Rangers were 40/1. At 14/1, they were the outsiders come the quarter-finals, and having lost the first leg to Braga were out to 25/1.
They were 6/1 ahead of the tie with Leipzig, out to 11/1 after the first leg defeat, but are now as short as 11/10, after Frankfurt upset the odds to knock West Ham out.
Bristol Rovers produced the story of the weekend, to pip Northampton Town to automatic promotion from League Two. Rovers were well off the pace in mid-February, after failing to win against Sutton, Oldham and Mansfield inside seven days, leaving them 14th in the table, 14 points behind third-placed Northampton, albeit with a couple of games in hand, and 40/1 to finish in the top three.
From there, though, they became the form team in League One, taking 39 points from their remaining 17 games – the most in League Two to put themselves back into the play-off picture, with automatic promotion not out of the question.
In all likelihood, the Gas needed to hope Northampton dropped points at Barrow, unless they could pull off a five-goal swing.
A 7-0 win for the home side opened 80/1 and went off 28/1, with already-relegated Scunthorpe fielding a side whose average age was just 20, featuring seven teenagers. Rovers’ full-time price also shortened significantly, from opening 2/7 to going off 1/12.
Northampton raced into a 3-0 lead before conceding just before half-time, but with Rovers only 2-0 up against Scunthorpe, it would have taken an almighty second-half turnaround at the Memorial Stadium to deny the Cobblers automatic promotion. You don’t need me to tell you what happened…
Plenty of relieved punters were able to take advantage of bet365’s Early Payout Offer at the weekend as both Chelsea and PSG went 2-0 up and failed to win.
The offer marks both single and multiple Full Time Result selections as won when a side goes two goals ahead across more than 80 competitions
PSG were 1/5 to beat Troyes and went 2-0 up after 25 minutes, but the visitors fought back with goals after 30 and 49 minutes to hold the French champions to a draw, despite Mauricio Pochettino’s side being as short as 1/80.
Chelsea’s struggles in 2022 continued; despite two quick-fire goals from Romelu Lukaku just before the hour mark. With the Blues as short as 1/200 to win, a rare goal by Francesco Trincao got Bruno Lage’s men back into the game before Conor Coady nodded in at the death to secure a point for Wolves.
Both matches were paid out in singles and accumulators. Full details of the offer can be found here (terms and conditions apply).
By Steve Freeth