Mats Hummels was the saviour for Borussia Dortmund as his header three minutes from time rescued a 2-2 draw for the Bundersliga champions in Ukraine, giving them the edge over FC Shakhtar Donetsk ahead of the return leg in three weeks' time.
The German international lost his marker, Fernandinho, to power an unstoppable header past the helpless Andriy Pyatov, and was more than happy to emphasise his contribution in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg.
"It was a very important goal," said the central defender. "To have lost twice in five days is not what we would have wanted. It is a really good sign that we can try and make it into the next round."
There were warning signs for the home side in the first half as Hummels himself had a good opportunity to open the scoring in the 17th minute. However, thankfully for Mircea Lucescu's side, his header came crashing back off the crossbar.
"I was a little bit unlucky that I hit the bar because Felipe Santana touched the ball in front of me so I could not keep the header low and I was forced to adjust a bit," Hummels commented.
Despite dominating the opening 20 minutes, Jürgen Klopp's side failed to capitalise on their good start and Shakhtar created a number of chances of their own. However, Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl realises the importance of returning to Germany with the scores level.
"It is a great result for us given that this is a UEFA Champions League encounter," Kehl said. "We are in a great position going into the second leg. The only downside is perhaps that we did not make the most of the opportunities we managed to create. We will play the return leg at home and we can play even better there."
As well as Hummels played, he, just as everyone else on the pitch, was eclipsed by Mario Götze, who enhanced his ever-growing reputation with a fine individual performance. The 20-year-old set up Robert Lewandowski for Dortmund's first and Hummels knows that having a player of his calibre in the team is invaluable.
"Every game he plays he is one of the best players in Germany and maybe even in the world," Hummels said. "I don't know what more I can say about him. I enjoy playing with him and hopefully he will be playing for us for a few more years."
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