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Borussia Dortmund

BVB bow out with heads held high as Man City turn breath-taking game around


Borussia Dortmund have been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage. Not only did the Black & Yellows keep their dreams of a semi-final place alive for 55 minutes, but they led 1-0 too. Ultimately, though, they lost 2-1 – as they had done in the first leg a week earlier.

Boris Rupert reporting

BVB made a very disciplined start, were well organised and repeatedly posed a threat going forward. Jude Bellingham’s spectacular opening goal around the quarter-hour mark was not undeserved. Borussia were heading for the semi-finals at the break, though they had benefited from good fortune in two or three instances. But their luck deserted them when Emre Can headed the ball onto his upper arm and a penalty was given. City equalised from the ensuing spot-kick (Mahrez, 55) and then sealed their place in the semis when Foden made it 2-1 on 75 minutes.

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The scenario:  
After losing the first leg 2-1, BVB needed a victory to progress to the quarter-finals. A win by a 1-0 scoreline or by two clear goals (3-1, 4-2 etc.) would have been enough to take them through. Manchester City had not conceded a UEFA Champions League goal for 789 minutes – until Marco Reus levelled the scores at 1-1 in the first leg. Borussia Dortmund’s European home record against English clubs was as follows: six wins, four draws and three defeats.

Personnel matters: 
Jadon Sancho had returned to training, but was not yet ready to face his former club. He was joined on the sidelines by Thomas Delaney (Achilles tendon problems). Youssoufa Moukoko, Marcel Schmelzer, Axel Witsel and Dan-Axel Zagadou were all still unavailable to head coach Edin Terzic, who opted to field the same XI that had started the first leg a week earlier.

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Tactics:  
The approach was the same this time around too. The Black & Yellows lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Can dropping back between the two centre-backs during the build-up play. Guerreiro, who usually loves to cut inside frequently, instead hugged the left touchline almost the entire time – as did Morey on the right. The goal was to make the pitch as wide as possible. City pressed very high in their 4-3-3 formation, with up to five players in the opposition half.

The match & analysis:
Whenever BVB managed to beat the aforementioned press – and that happened time and time again – things got dangerous for City! Dortmund manoeuvred their way into the opposition box several times and commanded respect.

Manchester City had lots of possession at the beginning (and the end) of the first half, but it was BVB who got the first shot away. Though Dahoud’s effort from 16 metres was too central and posed Ederson no problems (7). The spells of BVB possession became longer by the minute, and by the 15th minute they had found the net! Can initiated the attack with a long ball towards the left flank. Haaland carried it into the box and although he couldn’t get a shot away, he managed to lay it back to Dahoud. His strike was blocked by Dias but the ball landed at the feet of Bellingham, who quickly touched the ball to the right and curled it brilliantly into the top corner from 14 metres out! Ederson did get a fingertip to it but could not prevent his side from conceding a third goal in this season’s competition. Shortly afterwards, Reus’ shot was turned behind for a corner (18).

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The shot count read 4-1 to BVB by the 20th minute. But then came the Manchester City resurgence. Having dispossessed Morey, De Bruyne struck the crossbar (25). Shortly afterwards, Hitz and Bellingham combined to deny Foden an equaliser (32). There were a number of hairy moments in the Dortmund box, as City turned the shot count to 8-5 in their favour within a quarter of an hour.

City continued to apply pressure and were awarded a penalty for handball after Can had headed the ball against his upper arm following a cross from the left. Mahrez slotted home to make it 1-1 (55). But Borussia did not look perturbed and instead looked to get forward. Haaland was afforded some space after being fed by Reus but couldn’t get the shot away, and Dahoud’s follow-up was blocked (60). Hummels headed a Reus free-kick over the bar (69).

But then came the decisive counter-attack from the Sky Blues. Gündogan set De Bruyne in motion down the left flank. The Belgian cut inside unstoppably and pulled the trigger from 18 metres, which Hitz turned behind for a corner. The set-piece was taken short and Foden was afforded far too much space in the centre-right channel. Hitz could only turn his shot from the edge of the box onto the inside of the post and it was 2-1 (75). The goal prompted huge celebrations from the visitors – a sign of the respect that Borussia had commanded over the two legs – but the tie was all-but over now. BVB would have needed three goals in the remaining 15 minutes to run out 4-2 winners.

The team went forward until the very end, not wanting to bow out of the competition with a defeat, but the score remained 2-1.

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Outlook:  
Next on the agenda are two home games in the Bundesliga: first up are Werder Bremen on Sunday (15:30 CET), before Union Berlin come to town next Wednesday (20:30 CET).

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