Ramos sees off Sporting to take Dortmund through
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
Adrián Ramos scored the only goal early on as Borussia Dortmund edged out Sporting Clube be Portugal to confirm a top-two finish in Group F with two games to spare.
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Borussia Dortmund reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as Adrián Ramos' early goal secured three points at home to Sporting and a top-two finish in Group F.
With just 12 minutes played Ramos, a surprise inclusion instead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, provided the only goal of the night, heading in Matthias Ginter's fine right-wing cross following some nice work by Christian Pulišić.
Before the break, Sporting twice came close to an equaliser thanks to the lively Gelson Martins, who was first denied by Roman Bürki and then Marc Barta.
Dortmund had chances to make it two, not least when Pulišić hit the bar before the interval and Schürrle sent a dipping free-kick just too high after the break. They might have been pegged back by a Bryan Ruiz header late on, but prevailed without displaying the flair of previous months.
Key player: Adrián Ramos (Dortmund)
There is no way of knowing when Ramos had learned that he would be starting, but it cannot have been more than a couple of hours before kick-off. Being the understudy to Aubameyang is not easy, but the Colombian striker was there when it mattered in his first ever UEFA Champions League start to score his fourth competition goal in his seventh match – after a total of just 109 minutes in the competition.
Aubameyang's surprise exclusion
A couple of hours before kick-off, when photos were taken inside Dortmund's dressing room, Aubameyang's shirt was still on display. When the line-ups were published, his name was not there, not even on the bench. Coach Tuchel confirmed on German TV that he was left out "for internal reasons"; it will be interesting to see how the story develops.
Pulišić's growing standing
The American has just turned 18 but his role at Dortmund is increasing all the time. With Gonzalo Castro and Raphaël Guerreiro returning from the sidelines, there were speculations he would make way tonight. Not only did he start, but Tuchel preferred to keep Pulišić on the pitch while substituting World Cup winner Mario Götze for Sebastian Rode later on, after the 18-year old had put in a strong performance on the right wing before.
Steffen Potter (@UEFAcomSteffenP)
While I expected a Dortmund win or at least a draw, I didn't foresee them providing as many openings for Sporting. While the frailties at the back and the Aubameyang situation may provide enough talking points for the next couple of weeks, this Dortmund side have still managed to go through with only four games played and have even overtaken Real Madrid to go top of the section.