Borussia Dortmund beat Slavia Prague 2-1 (1-1) on UEFA Champions League Matchday 6 to finish second in the group and reach the knockout stages of the competition at the expense of Inter Milan, who lost to FC Barcelona in the group's other game.
Boris Rupert reporting
BVB's difficulties containing a Slavia side that gave as good as they got made for an entertaining encounter. The goalkeepers were the standout performers in the opening half, with Kolar twice thwarting Reus and Bürki making two world-class saves. But they were powerless to prevent Jadon Sancho opening the scoring in the 10th minute and Tomas Soucek deservedly levelling two minutes before the interval. The hosts re-established their lead through Julian Brandt on the hour mark and held on to secure a last-16 berth!
To finish second in the group, Borussia Dortmund needed to better Inter Milan's result at home to Barcelona. Slavia, meanwhile, would finish fourth regardless of what happened.
Weigl replaced the injured Witsel, while Hummels stepped in for Piszczek. Delaney, Schmelzer and Bruun Larsen were all still injured and unavailable.
BVB kept faith in the 3-2-4-1 formation they have deployed recently, while Slavia opted for a 4-2-3-1 in which left winger Olayinka would drop back and expand the defence into a back five whenever Dortmund were attacking.
The match & analysis:
Slavia proved to be as unpleasant and tough an opponent as expected, producing an away performance to rival their displays in Milan (1-1) and Barcelona (0-0) earlier in the campaign. They had more of the ball than BVB in the opening 25 minutes and would have certainly found the net had it not been for Bürki. The shot-stopper made an outstanding save from close range with his feet to save an Olayinka header in the 10th minute and then turned Stanciu's shot behind for a corner on the 21-minute mark.
But the opening goal of the game came at the other end when Sancho, having earlier had a shot from 16 metres turned behind for a corner in the fourth minute, slotted home to give his side the lead in the 10th minute. Brandt played a perfect ball into the path of Reus and he squared the ball to the unmarked Englishman, who was left with an easy finish from close range. Reus subsequently went clean through on goal on two occasions – the first when he latched onto a superb outside of the foot pass from Hummels in the 15th minute and the second after he dispossessed Takacs eight minutes later – but he was kept out by keeper Kolar both times.
Bürki continued to play a pivotal role throughout the first half, making five saves in the opening 33 minutes of the match. One especially notable stop came in the 34th minute when he managed to parry a Masopust shot from 16 metres out – which had taken a deflection off Reus' calf – over the bar despite being on his knees at the time. Two minutes earlier at the other end, Kolar had produced a good stop to keep out Hazard. The fact both teams had registered seven shots by this point signalled what an open and entertaining encounter it was.
Slavia restored parity two minutes before the interval when Masopust played a ball into the centre and Skoda chested it into the path of Soucek, who slotted home with a first-time effort. The goal was awarded after a lengthy VAR review. At the same time, Inter made it 1-1 against Barca...
Dortmund pressed to re-establish their lead at the start of the second period and went close when Hazard cut the ball back to Brandt in the 51st minute, but his curler from 16 metres out sailed a whisker wide. But he went one better 10 minutes later, receiving the ball from Sancho on the left of the six-yard box before firing inside the near post to make it 2-1. In the period that followed, however, Borussia spurned a number of promising opportunities to extend their advantage on the counter.
A late Slavia resurgence forced Bürki into making several spectacular stops in the closing stages. The Swiss custodian kept out Soucek's driven effort with a fingertip save on 74 minutes and was handed a reprieve when Kudela headed wide of a virtually empty goal from the ensuing corner. A short while later, Weigl was – very, very harshly it must be said – sent off for a second bookable offence. Bürki continued his man-of-the-match display on 78 minutes with a save to keep out Helal. Piszczek and Balerdi were brought on as defensive reinforcements in the closing stages and the Black & Yellows held on to secure a narrow 2-1 win.
The draw for the next round of European fixtures will take place on Monday next week (16 December). Two days earlier, on Saturday 14 December, BVB will visit 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga. Kick-off is at 15:30 CET.