Tuesday night, the Champions League once again graced us with its presence. This latest round of fixtures featured powerhouses such as Real Madrid, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund in action. The German club were tasked with a difficult trip away to Portugal to take on Sporting CP. Going into the match, Thomas Tuchel’s squad sat atop Group F alongside Madrid, while Sporting found themselves one point off the lead. Could the Portuguese club navigate their way to an upset at home, or would it be business as usual for BvB?
It was a dream start for the visitors as they took the lead after just nine minutes. Mario Gotzë played a speculative ball past Sporting’s backline, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed off his blistering pace to blow past his defender before sending a cheeky chip over Rui Patrício. 1-0 Dortmund.
Through the opening stages of the match, it was all Dortmund as they mounted attack after attack at Sporting’s goal. Aubameyang and American superstar Christian Pulisic both tried their luck, but neither was able to find a way to double their side’s lead.
Sporting showed glimpses of enthusiasm and they nearly stole an equalizer just after the half four mark. Elías did well to muscle his way past Felix Passlack on the edge of the area, but Roman Bürki was well positioned to deny the ensuing shot.
In the 39th minute, Sebastián Coates thought that he had found the equalizer from a corner kick, only for his goal to be called back for a Bas Dost foul on Bürki.
Just when it looked like Sporting were going to survive Dortmund’s last flurry of chances, Julian Weigl struck. The 21-year-old danced past two defenders outside of the area in the 43rd minute before hitting a picture perfect shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 BvB. To be honest, the Germans were unlucky not to be three or four goals ahead going into the break.
Sporting came out firing in the second half, and after less than 60 seconds, Gelson Martins forced Bürki into an acrobatic diving save with a curled shot to maintain Dortmund’s clean sheet. Almost 20 minutes later, Sporting found themselves with an indirect free kick in the penalty area after a Bürki picked up a back pass form Marc Barta. From just under 12 yards out, Bruno César drilled a shot through a wall of yellow and into the back of the net. 2-1 Dortmund.
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In the 69th minute, Bas Dost came within inches of finding the equalizer, but his header flashed just wide of the far post. Dortmund’s defense looked completely out of sync in the second half, and Sporting probably should have capitalized on more than just one of their mistakes.
A surprising moment of optimism in the second half for Dortmund came in the 78th minute. A poor punched out clearance from Patricio gifted the ball to Pulisic on the edge of the box. The American was quick to react to the open net, and hit a shot that rang off the woodwork. Would Dortmund live to rue that missed chance?
Sporting continued to push for an all-important second goal for the final ten minutes of the match, but luck just wasn’t on their sides. When the final whistle blew, BvB had narrowly survived for a 2-1 victory that kept them atop the group, and now Sporting face a near impossible mountain to climb if they hope to advance to the knockout stages.