Borussia Dortmund made it seven Group F points from nine with a 2-1 victory in Lisbon which seriously dented Sporting CP's hopes of an extended UEFA Champions League campaign.
Thomas Tuchel's men spoiled Sporting's nine-match winning home run as the Lisbon club, eliminated from Europe by Bundesliga clubs in the last two seasons, suffered more German misery. First-half goals by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Julian Weigl clinched things, though substitute Bruno César's indirect free-kick inside the box sparked a fightback in which Gelson Martins was centimetres away from equalising.
If the result belied Sporting's bright start, Dortmund's initial hesitancy betrayed the visitors' inexperience – average age 23 and featuring teenagers Ousmane Dembélé, Christian Pulišić and Felix Passlack.
Then, however, Aubameyang outran and outstrengthed Ruben Semedo before dinking over Rui Patrício. Midfielder Weigl, with his first Dortmund goal, doubled the advantage, beating two men before rifling home.
Roman Bürki's fingertips saved BVB when Elías broke free and, later, with Bas Dost poised to pounce. The referee's whistle also ruled out Sebastián Coates's strike. Dost's free header, at 1-2, was another one that got agonisingly away.
Key man: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund)
Along with his superb off-the-ball movement, Aubameyang showcased his strength, speed and a subtle finish when powering away for the opener. The 27-year-old might have added to his seven goals in 20 UEFA Champions League matches on several occasions thereafter, twisting and turning Sporting's defenders at will.
Sporting were much improved after the break
Sporting's missing link
Sporting concerns were raised when midfielder Adrien Silva recently underwent knee surgery, sidelining the skipper for this double-header with Dortmund. The worry was that the Leões talisman would leave too big a gap at the heart of Jorge Jesus's team – a fear largely realised during an opening period in which Elías and Lazar Marković struggled to stem the Black and Yellow tide. However, a much improved second-half showing offers encouragement ahead of matchday four.
"I am confident in the team I will send out," said Tuchel in response to the injury crisis his side are enduring. The coach – shorn of seven senior players in the Portuguese capital – proved his faith was well-founded as Die Schwarzgelben made light of those absences for large parts against Sporting. What's more, with attacking talent such as Aubameyang, Pulišić, Dembélé and Mario Götze on dazzling display, BVB also reiterated their tournament ambitions here, despite tiring after the restart.
Dortmund celebrate at full time
Paul Bryan, Sporting (@UEFAcomPaulB)
Seemingly out of sight at half-time when leading through Aubameyang and Weigl's first senior goal, Dortmund were given an almighty scare once César smashed home midway through the second 45, a strike that set up an enthralling finish. Weary perhaps after their impressive first-half exploits, BVB somehow kept Sporting at bay but will know they will have their work cut out come the rematch on 2 November.
Steffen Potter, Dortmund (@UEFAcomSteffenP)
What a game! Dortmund appeared in control for long spells, with elegant 21-year-old Weigl bossing central midfield and their quick attackers always a danger. But then Sporting got one back to herald a frantic finale. However, with everyone expecting Real Madrid to progress from this section, this victory has been a massive step forward for Borussia – provided they can avoid a reverse when Sporting visit Germany next month.