BV Borussia Dortmund 4-0 FC Slovan Liberec - Dortmund reached the last four in style.
BV Borussia Dortmund 4-0 FC Slovan Liberec (Dortmund win 4-0 on aggregate)
FC Slovan Liberec's stirring UEFA Cup adventure came to a juddering halt in the Westfalenstadion when BV Borussia Dortmund proved one giant too many for the Czech Republic club.
Having kept Matthias Sammer's team at bay for over two and a quarter hours in this quarter-final tie, they conceded two goals in six minutes early in the second half and suddenly capitulated, losing 4-0, both on the night and on aggregate.
He may not have figured among the goals, but the boyish-looking Tomáš Rosicky will have been many people's man of the match and that must have hurt Slovan to have been undone by not only a fellow countryman but someone who once played for rivals AC Sparta Praha. It was fitting that the young midfield player, whose perceptive use of the ball never allowed Slovan to relax for a second, should have left the field to his own personal ovation when substituted with 13 minutes remaining and his work for the night done.
The last laugh
Nor was he the only Czech Republic player to punish Slovan. The big Jan Koller had been guilty of missing a sitter in the first half - he was not to know he was offside at the time - but he had the last laugh, scoring a fine technical goal after 57 minutes which for someone who was described as "clumsy" when a player at Sparta must have been extremely satisfying. At 2-0, it effectively ended the tie.
End of a marvelous run
So a marvellous run which has seen them eliminate clubs of far greater stature in the game than themselves, such as RC Celta de Vigo, RCD Mallorca and Olympique Lyonnais, finally came to an end for little Slovan. But there had been no clues in the first half to just how easy this game would ultimately be for the German side. The opening 45 minutes carried on where the previous 90 left off, with a tight game of very few chances and as in the first leg, Dortmund looking only marginally the better side.
Amoroso's excellent match
It was not until the 34th minute that either goalkeeper was tested and then Amoroso, who had and excellent match, took advantage of an astute pass from Rosicky to work space for a shot which Antonin Kinsky did well to hold. All that Slovan could point to in the opening period was a header from the opposition's Christoph Metzelder to a dangerous cross by Jan Nezmar which flashed perilously close to one of the German's own uprights. Slovan did have one moment to savour when, in the first half, Jiri Štajner back-heeled the ball past Metzelder and then ran around the other side of him to collect it before playing in a cross which Jan Nezmar stabbed wide. Otherwise, it was about the quietest night the normally superb Štajner had experienced in the competition.
With hindsight, the pressure exerted on the Slovan defence in the closing minutes of the first half was a sign of things to come. Six minutes after the break, Slovan, having defended with meticulous care, were wrong-footed by an unfortunate double deflection - Ladislav Škorpil, the Slovan coach, described it as a "bizarre goal". Amoroso's intended pass out wide ricocheted off two Czech players back into the middle of the goal where Koller challenged Kinsky strongly. The ball broke free and Amoroso followed up to score a well-deserved goal.
'On their knees'
Koller's goal, however, six minutes later owed nothing to chance and as Škorpil said later "put Slovan on their knees". An excellent left-wing cross by Dede was met by a downward header from Jorg Heinrich at the far post and Koller was on hand to volley home.
Instead of easing up, Dortmund increased the tempo and scored an even better goal after 70 minutes, which began with a rather adept back-heel by Koller. Rosicky then threaded the ball through to Amoroso who with a clever feint won the space needed for a cross to the far post where Lars Ricken volleyed home, albeit a trifle inelegantly.
Lesson in finishing
Slovan probably did not deserve to concede a fourth, but they must have known their luck was well and truly out when Ewerthon cleared off the line from Baffour Gyan. With a minute remaining a ball by substitute Sunday Oliseh was headed back into the area by Evanilson to Ewerton. His first shot struck a defender, but it was typical of Dortmund's luck that the rebound should come straight back to him and this time he made no mistake. "They gave us a lesson in how to take chances," said Škorpil, who may have recalled the sitter missed by Nezmar in the first leg.
Liberec so strong
Sammer, however, was generous in victory. "Rarely have I seen a team who are as physically strong as Liberec," he said. "We knew how they would perform and we knew about their pressing game. We knew we had to perform in a very concentrated manner. I was particularly pleased to see that my team took their recent free scoring in the [1.] Bundesliga into the UEFA Cup."