Borussia Dortmund 2 Sevilla 2 (Dortmund win 5-4 on agg)
A routine win for Dortmund, even if it didn’t quite feel like that at times. In truth, the real damage was done in Seville three weeks ago, and as Dortmund progressed to the quarter-finals for the first time in four years we learned little here that we did not already know.
Dortmund are lethal on the counterattack and alarmingly brittle in defence. Injuries have left their squad looking a little uneven. And Erling Braut Haaland remains the closest thing to a guarantee in European football right now.
Youssef En-Nesyri’s penalty with 20 minutes remaining, followed by a superb headed goal deep into injury time, gave Dortmund a few nervous moments in the closing minutes. But by that point Haaland’s two goals – to add to his two in the first leg – had already decided a game that had seemed to be tilting back towards the visitors during a rampant first half-hour.
Indeed, perhaps the real point of difference between these two sides was the contrast between Sevilla’s spasmodic goal threat – for all their dominance of possession – and Haaland, the 20-year-old gamebreaker who when he is in the mood, as he was here, constitutes his own irresistible run of play.
Certainly Haaland’s goal on 35 minutes had a certain percussive finality to it, the ultimate expression of his ability to conjure openings from nothing at all. Until that point Sevilla had been utterly dominant, needing at least two goals to progress and looking good value for them.
Brisk and precise, they won the early territorial battle and hemmed Dortmund into their own half, enjoying early chances through Lucas Ocampos and Suso. The home side, for their part, were largely complicit dance partners: passive and porous out of possession, indecisive and error-prone in it, angrily remonstrating with each other when the ball went out of play. Tonally and tactically, it felt like a smooth continuation of their late collapse against Bayern Munich last Saturday, when they went 2-0 up early in the game and ended up losing 4-2.
At this point Haaland was largely a spectator on his own stage. He had made just one complete pass. And yet as he chased down another hopeless long punt on the Dortmund right, something of that coiled and latent menace seemed to stir in him.
Against all odds, he won the ball and shovelled it back towards the centre. Thomas Delaney barged the young French centre back Jules Kounde off the ball with a savage urgency; Mahmoud Dahoud slipped a lovely ball through to Marco Reus, who cut back for Haaland to finish for close range. A deadly, devastating counterattack, Haaland's ninth goal of this Champions League campaign, and an evergreen reminder that pressure is no substitute for genuine penetration.
Within two minutes of the restart, Sevilla’s hopes of finding a way back into tie had been scuppered by a bizarre interlude during which Haaland had a goal disallowed, missed a penalty and still somehow managed to score all in the same passage of play.
First Haaland overpowered Fernando before dinking the ball in from a tight angle, only for the goal to be overturned by VAR for a push. Whereupon, Cuneyt Cakir promptly awarded Dortmund a penalty for an earlier foul by Kounde. Haaland stepped up, hit the post, and saw his follow-up saved by Bono.
But just as Sevilla were springing forward on the break, the whistle went again. Bono had stepped a couple of inches off his line before the kick was taken. Haaland finished this time, taunting Bono for having the temerity to try to deny him a goal, and so a full six minutes after first putting the ball in the net, Dortmund were 2-0 up and safely ensconced in the last eight. – Guardian