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Real Madrid eliminate Borussia Dortmund in Champions League

Casillas saves point blank shot
Casillas saves point blank shot
Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images

Today, Spanish Football's Real Madrid lost to Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie at Signal-Iduna-Park, yet eliminated the Germans by a 3-2 aggregate score. The game could have been disastrous for Real and historic for Dortmund, and it almost was just that.

Playing with the injured Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, Real began the game on a surprisingly even footing with Dortmund, and even allowed the hosts to take the initiative when that was what Dormund wanted. Robert Lewandowski, back in action for Dortmund was roaming widely, looking for any chance, while his teammates looked for him and Marco Reus at every turn.

The torrential rain added to the already slippery conditions and after about ten minutes the hosts began to assert themselves further realizing the environmental conditions and Real's demeanor had literally leveled the playing field.

Very much against the run of play, at the 16th minute a Fabio Coentrao hit a defender's extended arm in the box and Angel di Maria was called upon to take the ensuing penalty. The Argentine stepped up and shot a terrible shot to Roman Weidenfeller's left and the goalkeeper easily saved the shot. From that moment on the Germans pressed incessantly, for thirty five minutes, keeping the Spaniards bottled-up on their half of the field.

With conditions poor and Real rattled by the penalty miss Dortmund grew in confidence and momentum and soon began to feast on several passing errors from the Real midfielders and defenders.

At the 24th minute Reus jumped on a poorly headed back pass from Pepe to no one and Madrid keeper, Iker Casillas, ran out at him but found himself in no man's land, allowing Reus to slot the ball down the middle of the box and roll in the game's first score.

Madrid, already rattled by the previous events went into a stupor and thereafter rarely left their half of the field. The Dortmund pressure increased and at the 37th minute another mistake, a Xabi Alonso back pass was intercepted and Lewandowski was sent in one on one with Casillas. This time the keeper saw the play coming and his save pushed the ball onto his left goal post. But Reus was the first to react to the ricochet and powered in the second goal. Dortmund 2, Real 0.

The half ended with that score and Ronaldo off the bench exhorting his teammates to hang on.

The second half had the same beginning as the first with teams at an even keel but Dortmund looking for the all important third goal. But despite an exciting latter part of the second half the earlier half seemed more an exercise in possession, which ended at 50-50.

Then, at the 59th minute Karim Benzema had a golden chance to ice the match as Luka Modric sent him in on goal in the box only to have the Frenchman hesitate and stumble long enough to have the last defender clear the danger before the goalkeeper had to become involved.

At the 65th minute it seemed Dortmund had found its tying goal when midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan on a two attackers on five defenders "breakaway," shot off the post when the onrushing Casillas had closed the angle.

At the 68th minute, Mkhitaryan had another chance, this time a point blank shot from inside the box that Casillas saved spectacularly.

At the 70th minute the best goalkeeper in the world saved another blast from inside the box. This time it was a nice Dortmund play that left Lewandowski unmarked at the left of the penalty spot and his cannon shot was saved emphatically by Casillas.

The last twenty minutes were tight, but the rain had diminished and Dortmund had run itself into exhaustion. Real dominated the game simply by having eight men back and three wide to receive the clearances and take time off the clock. At times, Real actually attacked, but coach Carlo Ancelotti obviously had told his troops this was to be a holding pattern. And hold they barely did. Real move on to the semifinals 3-2 on aggregate.

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