MAN CITY 2, BORUSSIA DORTMUND 1
A dramatic last-minute winner from Phil Foden has given Manchester City a 2-1 lead to defend when they travel to Germany next Wednesday for their Champions League, quarter-final return against Borussia Dortmund.
In a compelling match featuring two of Europe’s heavyweights, it was one which lived up to its billing as City had one of their sternest challenges before making it 27 wins from their last 28 games.
Kevin De Bruyne gave City an early lead and it looked as though it would be the only goal of the game until they were stunned by Marco Reus’ 84th minute equaliser.
It looked as though City’s wastefulness in front of goal would haunt them until Foden stepped up to the plate with what could turn out to be the most important goal of his career.
And it was also a night when Dortmund striker Erling Haaland impressed as the 20-year-old striker has been linked with a summer move to the Etihad.
Haaland, whose father starred for City, showed why he is one of the most coveted players in world football with a hand in Reus’ goal. He has 10 goals and two assists in seven Champions League matches.Embed from Getty Images
City manager Pep Guardiola was philosophical, saying: “It is better to win than draw. We are going there to win the game.
“In the first half we were not clever with the ball. The second half was much better, we had two or three clear chances to score the second and third, but it didn’t happen. After we concede 1-1, we scored the final goal.
“Dortmund are strong, a good quality with the players they have and the quality it is difficult to do what we want to do it but, at 2-1, we have a good chance next week.
“We are going to watch the game. We will adjust a few things to go there and try to win the game. Next Leeds and then we go to Germany to try and win the game.
“Borussia Dortmund is a typical club from the Champions League. We have one more game there and with the result 2-1 we will try to score the goals there to win.”
And of Foden, Guardiola added: “In the second half he was a threat for them. He had two or three chances to score and finally he scored.”
De Bruyne said: “We saw the way they played. They played really well with the ball. It causes some problems sometimes. I think in the first half we had a little bit of difficulty finding the chances but in the second half we created a few.
“We probably should have scored a little bit more but obviously when they came back to 1-1, that was a little shame, but it happens.
“I think the reaction was really good so to get the win is good. We know 2-1 is a tricky score but at least we are ahead for the second leg.”
And of City’s winning spree, he added: “It has been an incredible run of games. The team has responded well to the challenge this year.
“We are in a good situation and a little bit privileged because we are able to compete for every trophy. We try to prepare game by game.”
Guardiola made five changes to the side that beat Leicester City 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.
John Stones, Joao Cancelo, Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva returned as Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were among those dropping to the bench.
Dortmund had three changes after a 2-1 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga at the weekend.
Nico Schulz, Thomas Delaney and Thorgan Hazard lost out while Mateu Morey, Ansgar Knauff and Mahmoud Dahoud took their places.
In the case of 19-year-old Knauff, a midfielder, it was a full debut for Dortmund. He had previously made two substitute appearances in the Bundesliga and one in the Champions League.
Haaland turned provider for the first chance of the game in the seventh minute for England international Jude Bellingham who was denied by a smart save from Ederson.
City made the breakthrough in the 19th minute after former Liverpool player Emre Can carelessly lost possession in midfield.
They broke swiftly with an incisive move ending with Riyad Mahrez cutting the ball back for De Bruyne to slot home from six yards, his eighth goal of the season.
Remarkably, it was the 18th goal City had scored in the Champions League without conceding, a competition record and another impressive statistic for this all-conquering side.
There was drama just short of the half hour when City were awarded a penalty only to have it disallowed after the intervention of VAR.
Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the spot for a high boot by Can as Rodri went down holding his face.
VAR instructed Hategan to review his decision on the pitchside monitor and, after lengthy deliberations, he overturned his decision.
City had a lucky escape in the 37th minute after Ederson was caught when trying to clear a long ball over their defence.
Instead of kicking the ball straightaway, Ederson attempted a touch – a poor one – as Bellingham raced through to beat the Brazilian and score.
Hategan was at the centre of another hotly disputed decision as he ruled out the goal for a foul on Ederson and, to add insult to injury for the visitors, booked Bellingham.
City were indebted to Ederson soon after the restart for remaining ahead.
Haaland raced on to a through ball and outpaced and outmuscled Ruben Dias – not many players do that – and forced Ederson into a huge save with a block.
City made their first change just short of the hour when Silva made way for Jesus.
And mid-half they had a great chance to double their advantage after a break by De Bruyne and cross for Foden whose goalbound shot was kept out by the legs of goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.
De Bruyne also had the chance for a second goal but pulled his drive wide and Foden then had a shot only parried by Hitz and fired wide with another effort as City looked to build on their advantage.
And City were made to pay for those missed chances as Dortmund drew level in the 84th minute when Haaland’s brilliant through ball released Reus who finally breached City’s defence with a brilliant finish, the first goal they had conceded in Europe since October.
But in the 90th minute came a dramatic City winner from Foden. Gundogan cushioned a far-post header to Foden who swept home his 12th goal of the season.