It was more of the same for Borussia Dortmund today. They played down to their opponent, APOEL Nicosia, and drew 1-1 with sloppy finishing, questionable match tempo, and some nervy moments from the defense.
With only two points in the Champions League, Dortmund’s chances of making it to the Round of 16 are all but over after today’s dismal and embarrassing display at home. Credit to APOEL, they came to play today, but it shouldn’t have been that close with a better performance.
Ömer Toprak returned to the XI after being out a week with a thigh injury, while Maximilian Phillip and Julian Weigl re-entered to the starting rotation after both sat out last week’s disappointing loss to Hannover 96. Raphael Guerreiro made his 2017-18 Champions League debut after seeing the field for the first time last Saturday in Hannover.
The match started off lively for the hosts, with five total shots and three shots on goal in the first ten minutes of play. The team looked more aggressive than their Cypriot counterparts, and even the high line and aggressive press did their jobs against an APOEL squad that looked pretty toothless for most of the first half.
Dortmund’s best chance of the first half came in the 14th minute, with a corner kick glancing off Pulisic’s head and falling to the feet of both Pulisic and Maximilian Phillip, but unfortunately neither of the wingers were able to slam it home and it was cleared away by the APOEL defense.
The game slowed down after that, with APOEL packing it into their defensive third and Dortmund unable to breach it, but everything changed in the 29th minute when Weigl drilled a pass to Shinji Kagawa, and the Japanese international flicked it onto Guerreiro. With a clear sight at the goal, Guerreiro ripped a shot top right over the charging goalkeeper and in, scoring the second Champions League goal of his career.
Dortmund were gifted another goal-scoring opportunity late in the half when a defensive giveaway in the APOEL end fell to the feet of Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng. Aubamayeng went at the goalkeeper and either tried to punch it in himself or cross it for Christian Pulisic, but regardless nothing came of it.
The good times ended quickly in the second half when Bartra mistimed a tackle, giving an APOEL man a clear run down the right flank. He fired in a sliding cross into the box, which was failed to be cleared out by Toprak and Mickaël Poté slammed it in to bring the Cyprus team level.
Dortmund pressed to retake the lead following the goal, with their best chance of the half at the time coming in the 56th minute where Kagawa received a pass from Götze and moved to the top of the box and fired wide left. Dortmund had another amazing chance late in the 77th minute when Pulisic cut into the box and found Aubamayeng with a brilliant cross, but the goalkeeper got a hand on the ball and it redirected onto the crossbar and out. Pulisic had another chance after that as the ball remained in play but it took a deflection off the hand of an APOEL man without handball being called.
APOEL had their own chances to take the lead late in the game, but they were undone by poor finishing of their own as well as a Dortmund backline that stepped up late.
The hosts had one last chance two minutes into stoppage time when Götze sent in a cross on a corner kick that found Pulisic. Pulisic flicked it on for a diving Aubamayeng, but it was headed wide. It was an exceptionally poor night for Aubamayeng, who is having more and more of them as of late.
Dortmund’s now earned only three points in their last five combined Champions League and Bundesliga matches, and only one win in the Pokal coming in the month of October. After such a high start in the league, it’s hard to imagine the wheels coming off so fast and spectacularly. There will be even more questions facing Bosz and the team as they take on league leading Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker this Saturday.
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