9 best goals of the Champions League last 16
Anadolu Agency / Getty

A fog of uncertainty settles over the stadium. Pantomiming a covert operative who's blown his cover, the referee touches his earpiece, and as the hush shifts to collective groans, the match official paints an invisible rectangle in the nighttime sky: it's VAR time.

Replay technology has hogged many headlines during the Champions League last 16, at times sucking the life out of continental fixtures with results hanging in the balance. But VAR still hasn't reduced the frequency of great goals in Europe's premier competition.

Here's a look at the nine best goals from the Champions League last-16 stage, with significant contributions from Ajax and Manchester City:

9. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

If there's been one flaw throughout Lionel Messi's near-perfect career, it's the Argentine's struggles at the penalty spot. What better way to rise above past blips than with a calm Panenka against Lyon.

Too bad VAR didn't review the penalty incident. Hmmm.

8. Moussa Marega (Porto)

How's that for a comeback? Porto's Moussa Marega levelled the aggregate score in the second leg versus Roma thanks to an incisive cross from Jesus Corona that the robust Malian calmly slotted home.

7. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Among the many notable goals during Manchester City's 7-0 throttling of Schalke on Tuesday was the slick backheel flick from Raheem Sterling that set up Sergio Aguero.

6. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Arguably the standout player of the last-16 stage, Sterling feasted on the Gelsenkirchen lot at will, including this stellar individual effort during the first leg in Germany courtesy of a pinpoint pass from Ederson.

5. Lasse Schone (Ajax)

Ajax veteran Lasse Schone had a fantastic two-legged tie against Real Madrid, including this looping set-piece strike that highlighted one of the most remarkable recent European matches.

4. Leroy Sane (Manchester City)

Rousing City attacker Leroy Sane faced the club that groomed him for stardom. The German international did this when the first leg was quite shockingly balanced on the edge of a knife late in the match.

3. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

Man of the match Dusan Tadic delicately danced through Real defenders before capping the sequence with a rocket left-foot strike, which was arguably the moment that cemented the tie.

Thank goodness VAR took an eternity to rule the goal good after Noussair Mazraoui managed to narrowly keep the ball in play.

2. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Liverpool's European savior continues to be silky Sadio Mane. The Senegalese forward channeled his inner Dennis Bergkamp while opening the scoring on Wednesday at the Allianz Arena.

Let's see that from another angle. Yikes, Manuel Neuer, you're canceled.

1. David Neres (Ajax)

David Neres' goal was the pinnacle of a highlight-filled last 16, and it came during an inspiring night for Ajax. The Brazilian's poise is notable, but the beauty was in the build up, with Tadic using a feint to dupe Sergio Reguilon before sending Casemiro to the glue factory.

It's hard to believe Tadic didn't thrive consistently under tactical misfit Mark Hughes. Somewhere, a Southampton fan is drinking a glass of nails while watching this replay.

Comments
9 best goals of the Champions League last 16
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox