An exciting finish by Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal second leg match with Borussia Dortmund went all for naught, as the 4-1 result in the first leg achieved by the Germans was enough to book a place in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. The Madrid side had their backs to the wall Tuesday evening, but despite a strong effort to begin, and end, the game, the iconic Spanish club could only make up two goals of the deficit, as fine defending by Dortmund for most of the match stymied Madrid. Thus Borussia Dortmund advance to their first Champions League final since 1997, to meet either Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
Real Madrid have now played in 24 Champions League semifinals, including three in succession, and came close to repeating the miracle that Dortmund conjured up against Malaga a few weeks back. Late goals by Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos after the Germans had shut them out for 83 minutes gave the match a thrilling ending, but they couldn’t find a third as Dortmund lost for the first time in this year’s Champions League tournament.
Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho made two changes to the starting XI that suffered four Robert Lewandowski goals last week at Signal Iduna Park. The Special One replaced Pepe and German international Sami Khedira with his former Chelsea man, Michael Essien, and Argentine Angel di Maria. Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund head man, kept the same XI that dominated Real in the first leg, although only Mats Hummels started in Saturday’s 2-1 league win against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
In spite of the pasting handed to Real Madrid in last Wednesday’s leg, the Madristas were full of vigor and attack in the rematch at their Estadio Santiago Bernabeu home. Real’s Gonzalo Higuain created his own chance in the 4th minute, coming in from the right on goal, but Roman Weidenfeller blocked his shot. The Spaniards continued with pace and full intent of erasing Dortmund’s aggregate superiority, and in the 9th minute Cristiano Ronaldo one-timed a shot from in front of goal high and wide. Dortmund were under the gun, and the situation worsened for the visitors when starlet Mario Götze had to leave the game just twelve minutes in with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Dortmund native Kevin came on for the Bayern-bound Götze.
While Real Madrid were the more adamant side early on, Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski had a chance saved by DIego Lopez while Weidenfeller saved on Ronaldo and Madrid’s other German international, Mesut Özil missed on a good chance. Real threw everything they had at the visitors in the first fifteen minutes plus, but by midway through the first 45 Dortmund were beginning to establish themselves in attack to the delight of the 4,000 BvB fans in attendance. Despite the presence of Ronaldo and Lewandowski, neither team could get on the scoreboard, with Ronaldo off-target on a FK attempt on goal as the first half ended.
Real against burned downfield out of the gate, but Dortmund’s Mats Hummels headed away a Real cross in the first seconds of the second half. Real needed goals badly, but it was Dortmund, and specifically Robert Lewandowski, who had the best early chances in the second half, as before five minutes had elapsed he’d skied a golden opportunity and followed up moments later with a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar but bounced away without crossing the goalline. At the hour mark, Lopez made an excellent save on İlkay Gündoğan, whose shot was just too close to the scrambling Madrid goalkeeper. Marco Reus was creator of both fine chances.
Mourinho brought in Karim Benzema and Kaka in for Higuain and left back Coentrao in the 57th minute, and Khedira ten minutes later, in hopes of finding goals. But Dortmund’s central defenders, Hummels and Neven Subotic, were everywhere heading away danger. Reus provided another opportunity for Lewandowski to score the game’s first goal in the 77th minute, but his shot was blocked.
As the minutes counted down and Dortmund still leading 4-1 in aggregate, Dortmund fans (and perhaps players) relaxed a bit. But Real Madrid struck like lightning, as Karim Benzema tapped in a cross from Özil in the 83rd minute on play in the box originated by Kaka. The goal amped the atmosphere in the Bernabeu to frenzy, and Dortmund’s inability to clear in front of their goal led to a roofed goal from defender Sergio Ramos to put Los Merengues only a goal away from their 13th Champions League final. With the home side playing only three in the back after Kaka came on for Coentrao, Dortmund had plentiful chances to put the tie away, but couldn’t finish, and one could envision a miracle comeback by Mourinho’s team similar to what Dortmund pulled off in their second-leg match against Malaga just three weeks ago.
But miracles are rare, and Real’s bold comeback fell short despite five minutes of added time. While fans of the proud Spanish club could console themselves with the fine comeback effort displayed by their boys, it was left to the visitors clad in yellow and black to celebrate after the final whistle.
Despite allowing the two late goals, Dortmund’s defending was superb, led by Hummels, Subotic and Weidenfeller, who came up with the big saves to frustrate Real Madrid. Not only were the central defenders strong in the air, but Dortmund often were able to work the ball out of their back with short passes played with poise instead of continually hoofing the ball upfield. Real Madrid ended up with 59% of possession, attempting 22 shots on goal to 8 for the visitors and earning 10 corner kicks to only three for Kloppo’s men. But with two wins and a draw in four Champions League matches with the Spanish giants this year, Borussia Dortmund were the better club.
Kloppo had these comments after the match
“It was a bit dramatic in the end, despite the fact we had a lot of counterattacks that led to opportunities to take the lead. We knew that Madrid would take an aggressive approach and we managed to calm things down after 20–25 minutes, but we definitely have ourselves to blame for allowing Madrid back into the game as we missed a couple of sitters.
Dortmund apparently are an all-inclusive club, so we always make things exciting, one way or another.
The 90 minutes felt quite long today, we played well at times but unfortunately not for the entire game. Obviously Madrid are capable of playing quality football of their own. They had a lot to make up for after the first leg, but in the end we deserved to go through on aggregate. We deserve to be in the final.
We knew that a team like us required a certain amount of luck to reach the final. That was the case against Málaga and also today. It wouldn’t have been necessary if we had used one of our chances though. It’s an extraordinary achievement nonetheless.
We play Bayern at the weekend, but we also have a day’s more rest than them, so I won’t deny the team that chance to go out and celebrate. Nuri [Şahin] apparently knows his way around Madrid, or so I’ve heard. I’ll stay in the hotel and have a few beers there. The players deserve to have a little time off after a game like this. Perhaps it won’t be ideal in terms of the Bayern game at the weekend, as they might give us a bit of a thumping, but that would be the most pleasant defeat against Bayern that we could ever experience. I’ll definitely not deny the players’ celebrations – what kind of muppet would I be if I did? ”
Real Madrid: Diego Lopez – Essien, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao (Kaka 57′) – Modric, Xabi Alonso (Khedira 67′) – Di Maria, Özil, Ronaldo – Higuain (Benzema 57′)
Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Gündogan, Bender – Blaszczykowski, Götze (Großkreutz 14′), Reus – Lewandowski
Header courtesy of facebook.com/BVBorussiaDortmund09
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