Real Madrid are through to the Champions League semifinals following a2-0defeat on Tuesday night at Borussia Dortmund in their return leg quarterfinal at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund, Germany.
Los Blancos advance to the tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive year on a 3-2 aggregate in what turned out to be a far more difficult objective than they could have imagined.Marco Reusscored two first half goals, but in the end it was not enough as solid goalkeeping fromIker Casillashelped prevent a third goal and possible extra time.
WithCristiano Ronaldoout injured, head Coach Carlo Ancelotti elected to slotÁngel di Maríaup top with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. Asier Illarramendi helped fill out the midfield with Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso while a back four of Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrão were tasked with shielding Casillas. The match kicked off with the Westfalenstadion in full voice but it was Real who got a golden opportunity to essentially put the tie to bed when Lukasz Piszczek was whistled for a handball in the area on an attempted cross from Coentrão.
Di María failed to kill the game on 17′
With their usual penalty taker, Ronaldo, unavailable, Di María stepped up but the spot kick was saved by Dortmund goalkeeperRoman Weidenfeller. It appeared the Argentine slipped in stepping up to the kick and it enabled Weidenfeller to make the dive to his left to block the shot. The stop sparked the home crowd and gave the Black and Yellows the push they needed.
The hosts went ahead1-0 in the 23rd minuteon a Reus goal that made the aggregate 3-1. It could not have been easier for Reus as Pepe mistakenly was looking to head back to Casillas, but the Portuguese center back was unaware of a lurking Reus and the German swooped in, deked an onrushing Casillas and shot past Ramos.
The pressure continued to mount on Los Blancos and it was another defensive error that brought Dortmund to 3-2 on aggregate viaanother Reus goal in the 36th minute. This time it was Illarramendi committing the mistake on a giveaway that fell to Reus who then fedRobert Lewandowskion the right. The man who terrorized Real in last year’s first leg semifinal with four goals hit the far post with a shot but Reus was there to follow up and slam the ball home to give Dortmund a 2-0 lead in the match and on the cusp of improbably levelling the aggregate.
Halftime mercifully came for Real, and in an effort to stabilize his side, Ancelotti brought onIsco for Illarramendito start the second half. Los Blancos appeared more settled to start the second stanza and nearly got on the scoreboard themselves after some good work from Bale but the Welshman’s shot in the 59th minute went wide. The high pressing deployed by Dortmund in the first half was not as prevalent in the second and Real had more time on the ball and were afforded a chance to grow into the game.
Yet Dortmund still proved lethal and the hearts of Real fans everywhere were lodged in their throats in the 65th minute when Mhkitaryan hit the post after an absolutely sublime pass from Reus who split the ball through four Real defenders to find Mhkitaryan who rounded Casillas and looked poised to score only to then hit the post with his shot. The rebound fell toKevin Grosskreutzbut his follow up was blocked by Pepe.
Dortmund continued to have the lion’s share of possession and had the equalizer all but scored if not for two superb saves from Casillas, first on Mhkitaryan in the 68th and then two minutes later saving a close-range Grosskreutz shot. If there was any question about the Spain No.1’s capability of still making big saves in big matches, ‘San Iker’ answered those Wednesday night with one of his finest performances.
The home side threw everyone forward in hopes of finding a third goal that would force extra time, but the Spanish visitors did just barely enough to keep Dortmund from realizing an improbable comeback.