Dortmund progress despite home loss to Zenit
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Borussia Dortmund 1-2 FC Zenit (agg: 5-4)
Sergei Semak handed over the Zenit reins to André Villas-Boas with an eye-catching, if futile, victory as Dortmund prevailed on aggregate.
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Borussia Dortmund reached the last eight of the UEFA Champions League for the second season running in spite of a 2-1 round of 16 second-leg defeat by FC Zenit.
Hulk's powerful opener raised hopes that the Russian side could recover their 4-2 first-leg deficit, but Sebastian Kehl's first strike in 30 UEFA Champions League appearances left them once again requiring three goals. They managed one in the form of José Rondón's diving header, but it proved too little, too late as Dortmund progressed 5-4 on aggregate.
Both teams had lost their domestic fixtures at the weekend, yet if anything that seemed to inspire as each enthusiastically set about the task at a packed BVB Stadion Dortmund. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sent the first opportunity begging when he headed Marcel Schmelzer's cross just wide and Robert Lewandowski tested Zenit keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev after turning well, either side of an Axel Witsel shot that called Roman Weidenfeller into action at the other end.
The signs were encouraging for the visiting fans, whose long trip was soon made worthwhile by Hulk's magnificent effort to open the scoring on 16 minutes, the Brazil forward jinking inside before releasing an unstoppable 25-metre drive past the flailing Weidenfeller.
Dortmund suffered a second blow minutes later as top scorer Lewandowski picked up his third yellow card of this season's competition, ruling him out of any potential quarter-final first leg. The hosts responded belligerently, with Malafeev having to be at full stretch to deny a rasping strike from Kevin Grosskreutz, but he was unable to keep out Kehl's equalising header on 38 minutes, the experienced midfielder arriving late to nod in his first goal in the tournament.
An untidy start to the second period limited both sides to long-distance attempts. Hulk blasted a free-kick over and though Aubameyang lofted a rare Dortmund chance high and wide, the onus was on Zenit – chasing only their second victory since the group stage began – to score.
Indeed, the Bundesliga outfit appeared content to contain the battle in midfield until substitute Rondón dived to head in Domenico Criscito's cross and reduce the aggregate arrears once more. Zenit strove in vain for another late on, though Dortmund were never truly made to sweat and will go into Friday's draw aware that the last time they reached the quarter-finals twice in succession, in 1996/97, they went on to become champions of Europe.