1-3 – Reus gives hope, but Monaco counter ruthlessly
Borussia Dortmund have missed the opportunity to reach the UEFA Champions League semi-final. After putting up a strong fight, the Black and Yellows were forced to concede defeat in the second leg away against AS Monaco, losing 1-3 (0-2). The travelling fans saw the team off with loud applause at the end of the match.
Boris Rupert reports from Monaco
18,000 Spectators were witness to a spectacular encounter in a sold-out Stade Louis II, with numerous chances for both sides. The hosts took an early 2-0 lead owing to defensive errors through Mbappé (3') and Falcao (17'), before Reus gave cause for hope by getting one back immediately after the break (48'). However, Germain took the Monégasques into the semi-final once and for all with a goal scored on the counter in the 81' minute.
How things stood:
Borussia Dortmund had never yet managed to overturn a home defeat in European competition in a second leg played away from home. After losing 2-3 in the first leg, a result chalked up in the shadow of the attack on the team coach the day before, and in part brought about by an incorrect refereeing decision (the goal to give Monaco a 0-1 lead was clearly offside), the Black and Yellows needed to win 2-0 or 3-1. A one goal margin of victory would have delivered them into the semi-final after scoring four goals. AS Monaco had won their previous eleven matches at home in all competitions.
Marc Bartra had flown into Monaco specifically to lend his moral support to the team. Needless to say, the Spaniard was unable to take to the field due to the injury he had suffered during the attack on 11. April, nor could World Cup winner Mario Götze (illness), André Schürrle (injured), or Sebastian Rode. Three changes were made to the team that had defeated Frankfurt the previous Saturday: Ginter, Guerreiro and Durm began in place of Bender, Schmelzer and Pulisic.
Borussia initially attempted to make their plays down the wings in a 3-2-4-1 line-up. When in possession, Piszczek, Sokratis and Ginter formed a back three, with Weigl and Sahin both playing a number 6 role directly in front of them. Durm and Guerreiro occupied the flanks in the opposition's half. Reus, who repeatedly pushed forward towards Aubameyang positioned at the top, and Kagawa operated in the middle of this offensive rank of four. When Monaco (set up in a 4-4-2 as in the first leg) were in possession of the ball, Durm and Guerreiro fell back to lengthen the defensive line to a back five. The Monégasques attempted to get forward directly and straightforwardly with vertical passes aimed along the flanks towards Silva and Lemar.
Tuchel adjusted the formation in the middle of the first half after having gone two goals down to a 4-2-3-1, and ordered his full-backs Piszczek and Guerreiro to get much further forward when in possession. Dembélé and Reus created space for them by moving inwards.
Course of the Game & Analysis:
Both teams quickly bypassed the midfield and went for goal in a pacy encounter characterised by offensive play, making the game very easy on the eye. Reus was released by Guerreiro after 31 seconds to notch up the first chance on goal, but his shot was blocked. Going in the other direction, Monaco's first attack on goal immediately brought them a 1-0 lead. Durm failed to challenge the oncoming left-back Mendy whose thunderous shot from 18 metres out could only be parried forwards by Bürki, where Mbappé demonstrated lightning quick reflexes to latch onto the rebound and volley home – just 157 seconds had been played.
Consequently, BVB now required three goals, and indeed, they could have had two goals in the first 15 minutes. However, after being played on by Durm, Reus' shot on goal from 10 metres out was too central, allowing Subasic an easy save (10'), after which a Sahin free-kick rattled the inside of the right post from around 20 metres out (14').
Sahin's free-kick hits the inside of the post
Bad luck in the final third and some misplaced passes in defence were evident in Borussia's 100th appearance in Europe's premier club competition. After 12 minutes Silva was gifted a free header at goal, but could not get past Bürki. Lemar was then not halted coming down the left wing and Ginter afforded Falcao too much space in the area, who directed the incoming cross unstoppably into the back of the net using his head to bring up the 2-0 lead (17').
Borussia still required three goals despite the new scoreline – but now to force the game to extra-time. Tuchel made substitutions and changed tactics early on in the game: Dembélé came on for Durm (26'), and took up position on the right flank in a 4-2-3-1. Nonetheless, chances worth mentioning came there not until a set-piece (a Reus free-kick, 41'), and so things remained until the half-time whistle.
Borussia emerged having made further changes: Schmelzer replaced Sahin, while Guerreiro was to occupy one of the number 6 berths with the intention that he would get further forward than Sahin. And the team had taken on a lot for the last of the four halves in this quarter final round. Kagawa tried his luck after 86 seconds, but Subasic held. Subsequently, Dembélé muscled his way down the right hand side and pulled the ball back crisply into the middle of the park, where the waiting Reus converted to pull one back (48').
Reus scores quickly after the break
The team fought passionately to stay in the competition. Spurred on by the roughly 1,500 strong travelling support, the Black and Yellows dominated the second half of the match. The threat posed by Monaco was still repeatedly evident in flashes: Touré forced a stunning save from Bürki after heading at goal (50'), and Falcao put his shot on the counter over the bar (65'). Pulisic came on for Guerreiro to see out the last 20 minutes of the game, but Monaco were increasingly able to get forward, and Mbappé (69') and Lemar (75') saw shots saved by Bürki.
The will was there, but as the game drew to a conclusion, perhaps the energy was lacking, and as such, the precision, attested to by Reus' shot sent directly into the keeper's arms from the edge of the area. And so then it came, as it was always likely to: a misplaced pass while playing out from the back led to Lemar putting the ball across the face of goal for the newly substituted Germain, whose goal was to decide the tie (81'), and bring proceedings to 3-1. Nonetheless, the men from Dortmund continued to try and find a way through, though without success.
BVB's "English week" (week including a midweek round of fixtures) continues uninterrupted: On Saturday (18:30 CET) they face Borussia Mönchengladbach away, and this coming Wednesday (20:45 CET) they face Bayern Munich in the cup semi-final.