Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Phil Foden came to Manchester City’s rescue as his late goal handed the home side a 2-1 win in their Champions League quarter-final first leg over Borussia Dortmund at Etihad Stadium.
Dortmund looked on course for a draw after captain Marco Reus’ equaliser six minutes from time cancelled out City skipper Kevin De Bruyne’s early goal. But Foden broke the BVB’s hearts with his winning goal, which gives City the slight advantage heading into the second leg.
The headlines ahead of this Champions League clash focused mainly on Dortmund’s 20-year-old wunderkind Erling Haaland amid speculation of a possible move to City. In the end, though, it was City’s own 20-year-old phenom who stole the show with his late heroics.
Highlights of the game
Dortmund had an uphill battle facing City’s dominant defence without star Jadon Sancho. Edin Terzic also made Champions League 2021 news by handing teenager Ansgar Knauff his first start of the season in such a huge match.
But the visitors started brightly enough and had the first big chance of the match on seven minutes. Dortmund’s 17-year-old Englishman Jude Bellingham took on compatriot Kyle Walker and got a good shot off, but Ederson did well to parry it away.
It took City until the 19th minute to create their first real attack of the match, and they took the lead with it. Emre Can’s errant pass launched a lightning-quick City counterattack led by Kevin De Bruyne, and the City captain finished the move off himself as he drilled home Riyad Mahrez’s cutback.
City’s Rodri made a huge mistake of his own as he turned the ball over at the edge of his own box. But Ederson bravely came out and punched the ball away ahead of the onrushing Reus.
Can and Rodri would then be involved in a penalty incident. Rodri went down in the box as if he had been caught in the head by Can. The referee quickly blew his whistle and pointed to the penalty spot. But after checking with VAR, it was clear Can made no contact with Rodri and the call was correctly reversed.
However, VAR would not come into play in a controversial incident involving Ederson and Bellingham. Bellingham appeared to have equalised for Dortmund after he nicked the ball away from Ederson as the City keeper was trying to clear the ball outside the box. But the goal did not count as the referee called a foul on Bellingham after Ederson went down in pain.
Since the referee blew for the foul before Bellingham rolled the ball into the empty net, VAR could not overrule the decision despite the replay clearly showing Bellingham had taken the ball cleanly.
It was a tough break for Dortmund, who were hanging tough defensively and were giving City few clear-cut chances.
And three minutes after the break, the moment BVB had been waiting for came: Erling Haaland finally had his big scoring chance. He shrugged off Ruben Dias then kept his balance to get a shot away, but Ederson made a great save with his legs to deny the Dortmund star.
Phil Foden then had his big chance to double City’s lead on 65 minutes, but the 20-year-old was denied by the legs of Marwin Hitz.
Foden’s miss would loom even larger for City when Dortmund equalised six minutes from time. Haaland delivered a perfect through ball to release Reus, who kept his composure and slotted the ball past Ederson.
But Foden would make amends for his earlier miss by scoring City’s winner on the 90th minute. Ilkay Gundogan perfectly controlled a Kevin De Bruyne long pass and laid the ball off to the 20-year-old, who was not going to miss from close range this time.
Foden and Haaland exchanged a post-match chat which piqued the interest of many online as they are left to imagine how the two precocious 20-year-olds would look playing on the same side. Perhaps they won’t have to wonder for too much longer.
Foden had a fine game overall. Aside from his goal, he had five of City’s 11 total shots, three of which were on target. With his goal, Foden became the third-youngest English player to score in a Champions League quarter-final behind Alan Smith and Theo Walcott.
Haaland had a much quieter night with just a single shot as he was unable to add to his 10-goal tally in the Champions League this season. It’s the first time he has been kept scoreless in this year’s competition.
Meanwhile, Marco Reus became the BVB’s all-time leading scorer in Champions League history with his 18th goal, breaking his tie with Robert Lewandowski. Reus also broke City’s seven-match run of clean sheets in the Champions League.
The two sides will meet next week for the second leg, where the Champions League 2021 odds will likely have City favoured to win. But before that, City will be in action this weekend against Leeds United.
The SBOTOP odds will also have them favoured at home, but the Whites have been in fine form of late and could cause City some problems.
As for Dortmund, they will continue their fading fight to reclaim a top-four spot in the Bundesliga as they face Stuttgart.
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