Benfica Lisbon hosted Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash on Tuesday night.
With both teams looking to take an advantageous result to the second leg in Dortmund, one would think that they would spend some time feeling each other out. But the exact opposite was in fact the case. The first few minutes were filled with exciting end-to-end action.
Then the Bundesliga side took complete control of the match, creating chance after chance, without scoring however. Ironically, it was the seemingly inferior home team that scored the lone goal on the night. Even that came from a corner and was the only real chance Benfica had generated all game long.
Kostas Mitroglou scored the goal with a left-footed tap-in from well inside the six-yard box early in the second half.
Meanwhile Dortmund’s star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang alone missed at least three top chances, including a penalty kick.
This result leaves Borussia Dortmund with a difficult yet doable mission for the second leg. Making up a single-goal deficit at home sounds like a simple task for them, but if the Portuguese giants score an away-goal, BVB would need to strike at least three times to advance.
Besides Mitroglou’s goal, there were a number of other key moments in the match, namely wasted chances by the visitors. But Aubameyang’s penalty miss, (not long after the goal) truly underscores the fact that this was not to be Dortmund’s night. (It starts one minute and eleven seconds into the video.)
Man of the Match: The honor clearly goes to the Benfica keeper Ederson Moraes. While one has to criticize Borussia for their abysmal finishing, Moraes deserves a lot of credit for his huge saves. According to whoscored.com, the goalie made five stops in total.
Key Stats: Other major statistics from the same source indicate that Dortmund had just over 69% possession, 14 total shots to Benfica’s five, as well as ten corner kicks to their opponents three.
This proves correct the old soccer cliché, which says that one team can totally dominate another and still lose the game. While it is hurtful to BVB fans and supporters of German soccer in general, this is what makes the Beautiful Game unique, and these defeats make victories all the more special.
Talking Points: This defeat and the one on the weekend vs. Darmstadt make the critics around Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund louder. The questions they will continue to ask about rumors of disagreements between the coach and his bosses. They will also look for explanations for the team’s inconsistency and its stars’ underperformance.
Meanwhile, Rui Vitória’s Benfica Lisbon looks good with this result and no one around them will remember the performance that led to it for much longer.
Benfica Lissabon: Ederson – Semedo, Luisao (c), Lindelöf, Eliseu – Fejsa – Salvio, Pizzi, Silva (67. Cervi), Carillo (46. Augusto) – Mitroglou (75. Jiménez)
Borussia Dortmund: Bürki – Piszczek, Sokratis, Bartra – Weigl – Durm, Dembélé, Guerreiro (82. Castro), Schmelzer (c), – Aubameyang (62. Schürrle), Reus (82. Pulisic)