BV Borussia Dortmund extended their unbeaten run to 15 games with a 1-1 draw away at Lille OSC in the first leg of their UEFA Cup fourth-round tie.
Undefeated since October
The German league leaders have not been defeated since October and showed why in the Grimonprez-Jooris stadium, defending resiliently in the face of threatening LOSC attacks.
But in an open, well-contested game, it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play on 66 minutes. Marcio Amoroso got on the end of Evanilson's right-wing cross and goalkeeper Grégory Wimbée, who was otherwise superb all evening, could only parry the ball into the path of Ewerthon, who hooked it home from close range.
It took just five minutes for LOSC to find an equaliser. Mile Sterjovski floated a right-wing cross into the Dortmund area and Salaheddine Bassir rocketed a half-volley on the turn into the bottom corner of Jens Lehmann's goal.
From that point on, neither side created any real chances, but LOSC could have had the game wrapped up by the hour mark. Johnny Ecker's long-range effort midway through the first half beat Lehmann but whistled past the Dortmund keeper's left-hand post and Dagui Bakari went close with a header moments later. Then, just before half-time, Bassir weaved through the Dortmund defence, playing a neat one-two with Bakari, but Lehmann rushed out to deny him.
LOSC's best chance to open the scoring came 15 minutes after the break. Sterjovski pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area and his stunning effort struck the foot of the post. In the scramble that followed, Bakari lunged towards the ball but Christian Wörns hooked the ball off the Dortmund goalline fractionally before he made contact.
LOSC coach Vahid Halilhodzic felt his side should have taken more from the game. "I'm a bit disappointed as we had six or seven good chances to score, but Dortmund scored from their first opportunity," he said. "We made too many mistakes, which you cannot afford to do at this level. We came back but we're not physically top at the moment - although we've shown the rest of Europe that we are a strong team."
Sammer: 'We defended too deeply'
Matthias Sammer was much happier with his Dortmund players, but criticised them for their first-half performance, saying: "At the start we weren't too confident and we defended too deeply. They gave us a lot of space in attack but we failed to profit from it. But the second half was much better. We got the scoring started and although we had problems when Lille equalised, I'm very satisfied."
As for the return leg, Sammer refused to say he expected a home victory. "Lille are a good side - a physical side that are strong on the counterattack," he said. "Next week's game in Germany will be very interesting."