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Getting away with it
Manchester City are a step closer to making it to the Champions League semi-finals after a 2-1 win in their opening fixture with Borussia Dortmund.
A first-half goal from Kevin De Bruyne and a late strike from Phil Foden gave Pep Guardiola’s side the advantage heading back to Germany for the return leg next week.
Marco Reus made history when he netted for Dortmund in the second half, but City responded quickly and regained the lead for good.
Heading into this match, Ederson hadn’t conceded a goal in seven consecutive Champions League matches.
Dortmund tested the Brazilian early on with a good chance in the 7th minute.
An excellent feed from Manuel Akanji to pick out Jude Bellingham as the Englishman did well to twist and turn away from the City defence, firing a left-footed drive that Ederson parried away.
That seemed to wake City up as they began to take control, and move the ball around, playing the keep away game we’re used to seeing.
All that possession paid off in the 19th minute.
Emre Can made a lazy pass in midfield which De Bruyne intercepted as he started the counter-attack.
The Belgian played it out left to Phil Foden, who fed Riyad Mahrez down the left.
The Algerian slid his low cross right at De Bruyne, who buried it into the open goal.
Five minutes later, Dortmund’s prized striker nearly levelled the match.
Erling Haaland got the ball in City’s end but couldn’t control it.
However, City’s defence couldn’t clear the danger as the ball returned to Ansgar Knauff, who chipped it over the City backline towards Marco Reus.
Ederson alertly came out to intercept the through ball before the Dortmund captain could get on the end of it.
A half-hour into the game, and City thought they’d earned a penalty after a free-kick came to Rodri in the box.
Emre Can put in a tackle and seemed to touch Rodri’s knee, so the ref pointed to the spot and gave Can a yellow card.
However, after a VAR check, the call was reversed as there wasn’t much contact to warrant a penalty, but oddly the caution remained.
In the 37th minute, Dortmund thought they had equalised as Bellingham got to the ball before Ederson at the top of the 18-yard box.
However, the referee blew the whistle for a free-kick and foul by the Englishman.
It was a bizarre call again, seeing as Bellingham got the ball before Ederson got there with little to no contact on the keeper.
A few minutes into the second half, and City were lucky not to concede.
Mahmoud Dahoud played a lovely through ball towards Haaland, who outran Ruben Dias.
However just as he looked poised to chip the onrushing Ederson he seemed to trip.
In the end, the City keeper did well to deny the Norwegian.
City should have doubled their advantage in the 65th minute.
Some excellent work from De Bruyne to get past Raphael Guerreiro down the right before pulling it back from the byline towards Phil Foden.
The Englishman’s effort, though, was well stopped by Hitz and the match remained 1-0.
De Bruyne seemed to find another gear in the late stages, first coming close in the 76th minute.
He skipped past a pair of Dortmund players before unleashing a powerful drive just wide of the left post.
The Belgian did well to start a counter for City one minute later, finding Foden on the edge of the box.
Unfortunately the Englishman’s effort was too close to Hitz, who made the save.
Dortmund got on level terms six minutes from the end.
Bellingham skipped past Gundogan before finding Haaland.
The Norwegian fed Marco Reus as the Dortmund skipper slid his shot into the bottom right corner.
City, however, were determined to get their lead back and went ahead again in the 90th minute.
De Bruyne found Ilkay Gundgoan with an excellent cross that the German collected near the byline and cut it back in front.
This time Foden got on the end of it and made no mistake, firing it into the far corner as City regained the lead.
Pep Guardiola’s side hung on from there as they maintained a 2-1 advantage heading into the return leg next week.
Man of the Match
It was another scintillating performance for Kevin De Bruyne in the City midfield.
Last season’s PFA Player of the Year got City on the board after a tentative start.
Then he picked out Gundogan brilliantly just before Foden scored the game-winning goal.
If only De Bruyne and Foden could have been a little more clinical in front of the goal, the Sky Blues advantage could be even greater heading into the second leg.
The Belgian’s vision and precision passing were on full display once again tonight.
He always seems to be the man to pick up his team when they need it most.
De Bruyne has been directly involved in 13 goals in his last 12 Champions League matches.
His team may have lost out in the past three Champions League quarter-finals, but it’s certainly had nothing to do with the Belgian’s play.
De Bruyne has four goals and three assists in seven quarter-final matches in this competition for City.
The streak ends
We witnessed something scarce in tonight’s match when Man City conceded a goal.
The Marco Reus strike is the first time Ederson has conceded in the knockout stage of this competition this season.
The only other time the Sky Blues conceded in this competition was in the 14th minute of their opening match against Porto.
Tonight’s match was all about the youngsters who showed their talent once again.
Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham became the second-youngest player to start a Champions League quarter-final (17 years, 281 days).
Bojan is the youngest ever to appear at this stage of this competition.
He played for Barcelona in a 2008 quarter-final against FC Schalke at 17 years and 217 days old.
Phil Foden is now the third youngster Englishman to score in the last eight of this competition.
Only Alan Smith in 2001 for Leeds (20y 158d) and Theo Walcott in 2009 for Arsenal (20y 30d) were able to do it sooner.
An area of concern for Pep Guardiola has to be the number of goals his side have conceded on home soil in these two-leg matches.
In their last seven home matches in the Champions League’s knockout stage, the Citizens have conceded 10 goals.
That doesn’t include their 3-1 defeat to Lyon, played at a neutral site in Lisbon last season.
It is important to remember that away goals are how tiebreakers are decided in the knockout stage.
City has been eliminated twice (2017 to Monaco and 2019 to Tottenham) due to away goals in the Champions League.
In a league of his own
Marco Reus cemented his place in Dortmund’s Champions League records books by scoring his 18th goal in this competition.
He’s now the all-time leading goalscorer for his side in this competition overtaking Robert Lewandowski.
Riyad Mahrez continues to be an essential provider for Man City, particularly in the Champions League.
He now has 10 assists in this competition for the Sky Blues.
Since the start of 2018-19 only PSG’s Kylian Mbappe (13) and Angel Di Maria (11) have more assists in the Champions League.
After the match, City manager Pep Guardiola said he felt his team came out flat in the first half.
“In the first half, we were not clever with the ball, but the second half was much better, and at 1-0, we had two or three clear chances. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but after we conceded, we got the goal.”
“We’re going to adjust a few things to go there and try to win the game.”
The Sky Blues prepare to host Leeds United at the Etihad on Saturday at 12:30 pm.
The return leg with Dortmund goes next Wednesday from Signal Iduna Park in Germany at 8 pm.
A draw or win will put City through to the last four. (JSL).