Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2017

Benfica stunned Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 as the hosts won 1-0 in the first leg at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.

Konstantinos Mitroglou struck for Benfica shortly after the restart for the second half, with the Eagles scoring against the run of play.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had an awful night in front of goal for BVB, missing several great chances and capping his night off with a missed penalty in the second half—leading to his immediate and acrimonious substitution.

The visitors dominated for large periods of the game but could not find the back of the net as they became more desperate with every passing attack.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 10: Benfica's forward Kostas Mitroglou from Greece celebrates scoring Benfica first goal during the match between SL Benfica and FC Arouca for the Portuguese Primeira Liga at Estadio da Luz on February 10, 2017 in Lisbon, Portu

Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Benfica made two changes from their recent victory over Arouca, with Eduardo Salvio and Rafa Silva drafted into the side to replace Andrija Zivkovic and Jonas.

Dortmund made four changes after their defeat to Darmstadt 98. Lukasz Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer, Ousmane Dembele and Marc Bartra were all recalled for the trip to Portugal.

The German team’s official Twitter feed provided the scenes from the stadium at kick-off:

BVB were on the front foot from the opening minutes, applying pressure to the hosts’ fragile-looking defence.

Dembele was mobile and troublesome in the final third as Marco Reus facilitated a bright start for the Bundesliga outfit.

Benfica were subdued and pegged back as the German side controlled territory and the flow of the match, and the hosts were ineffective in midfield.

The Eagles packed themselves behind the ball as they tried to play on the counter-attack, and the whistles from the crowd suggested Portuguese fans were not happy with the conservative approach of their side.

Dortmund's French forward Ousmane Dembele (L) vies with Benfica's midfielder Pizzi Fernandes during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match SL Benfica vs Borussia Dortmund at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on February 14, 2017. / AFP / P


The game remained narrow throughout the first half, with Dembele not providing the width he was expected to create.

Aubameyang was guilty of spurning two chances as he missed the target, with BVB pushing hard for the opener.

However, the deadlock remained intact as the referee blew the whistle for half-time, but only the visitors had come close to finding the net. provided the vital stats during the interval, with BVB superior in possession:

The Champions League’s official Twitter feed highlighted an unwanted milestone for the German side:

Benfica appeared a different side at the start of the second half and stung their opponents with a shock goal from a corner routine.

Mitroglou stole in as the Dortmund defence failed to defend the set piece, leaving the Greece international to score from close range three minutes after the restart.

Dortmund immediately turned the screw as Aubameyang missed a golden opportunity, but their endeavour was rewarded as the visitors earned a penalty.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 14: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund misses a penalty during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between  SL Benfica and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio da Luz on February 14, 2017 in Lisbon, Portug

Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Ljubomir Fejsa was adjudged to have handled the ball, allowing Aubameyang to step up for a spot-kick.

However, the prolific striker’s bad night continued as he struck a poor effort straight at goalkeeper Ederson, who didn’t have to move to make the save.

Sports presenter Lucy Zelic was stunned by the player’s weak shot:

BT Sport’s Archie Rhind-Tutt had some advice for the BVB attacker:

Aubameyang was soon hauled off by manager Thomas Tuchel, substituted with his head in his hands after a night to forget.

BVB desperately tried to make things happen as Reus twice tested the Benfica defence, but the hosts became more confident as they focused on protecting their unexpected lead.

The Germans began to play a more direct style in the final moments as they chased the result, but the game had become stretched, benefiting the motivated Eagles.

Ederson was the hero once again in the final moments as he kept the ball out of his net with a couple of excellent saves.

The ball wouldn’t roll kindly for Tuchel’s men in the final moments, and the Germans will feel they were architects of their own downfall after missing so many chances.


Post-Match Reaction

Mitroglou thanked the supporters for their role in Tuesday’s win:

Benfica manager Rui Vitoria knows the club’s job isn’t done after the first leg.

We know what we have to do in the second leg,” he said, per Benfica’s English language Twitter account. “Even having won, we know we can improve.”

Tuchel attempted to find the silver lining.

It is an extremely complicated result, but I am very proud of how we played tonight,” he said, per ESPN FC. “Even though I am very disappointed, I am proud of how we presented ourselves. I don’t think we played well, I think we played outstandingly. That’s only possible in football, to play this well and to still lose.”

Source link