Sport

Monaco 3-1 Borussia Dortmund

Monaco - Borussia Dortmund
Kylian Mbappe has five goals in four Champions League knockout games / Photo via BBC

Monaco reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2004 after an impressive second-leg performance in the last eight against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 side took a 3-2 first-leg lead back to Stade Louis II, where kick-off was pushed back five minutes after Dortmund’s team bus was delayed.

Teenager Kylian Mbappe pounced from close range to increase Monaco’s advantage after three minutes and Radamel Falcao headed in soon after to all but put the tie beyond Dortmund.

The Bundesliga outfit threw on exciting forward Ousmane Dembele and it was a fantastic run from the 19-year-old that set up Marco Reus to lash in after the break.

But substitute Valere Germain scored 22 seconds after coming off the bench for the hosts to secure their spot in the last four.

Monaco will discover their semi-final opponents when the draw is made on Friday, with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Juventus also progressing.

The Monaco ‘DNA’ aims to entertain

Leonardo Jardim’s young Monaco side have swept aside all before them in the Champions League this season, entertaining as they go with a brand of fearless, attacking football that the Portuguese boss said before the tie is part of their “DNA”.

The hosts poured forward with ruthless efficiency in the first half, with the pace of Benjamin Mendy and Thomas Lemar creating an overlap on Monaco’s left that Dortmund had no answer to.

It was from his first burst from full-back that Mendy forced Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki to parry a long-range effort into the path of Mbappe, and the prolific teenager finished smartly.

Mendy and Mbappe then combined for Lemar to add his fourth assist of the knockout stages when he set up Falcao for the former Manchester United and Chelsea striker’s 25th goal of the season.

At 31, Colombia forward Falcao is a relative veteran in this Monaco side and his experience in forward play complemented the penetrating runs and powerful dribbling of strike partner Mbappe.

The 18-year-old was particularly effective for Monaco on the counter attack as Dortmund searched for a way back into the tie late on, before his replacement Germain put it beyond their reach following another Lemar assist.

Slow start costs Dortmund

Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel had been aggrieved by the decision to reschedule his side’s home first-leg meeting with Monaco just 24 hours after three bombs exploded near their team bus last Tuesday, leaving defender Marc Bartra with a fractured wrist.

Tuchel complained his players had been “completely ignored” but, after a 3-1 Bundesliga win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, the 43-year-old said the incident was out of his side’s system before the trip to the Stade Louis II.

However, their second-leg preparation was also disrupted with Dortmund saying their bus was held for 20 minutes by local police.

The visitors started slowly, and the task of overturning a first-leg deficit became substantially trickier after conceding two early goals and watching Nuri Sahin’s curling free-kick strike a post at the other end.

Monaco’s young stars may have shone through over the two legs, but Dortmund have one of their own. Tuchel turned to Dembele after only 27 minutes, and the 19-year-old was the visitors’ biggest threat.

But with top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang unable to make an impact over the two legs, Dortmund lacked the clinical touch of their opponents.

Can Monaco win the competition?

The last time the Red and Whites reached the last four of Europe’s premier competition they went on to finish as runners-up to Jose Mourinho’s Porto.

Didier Deschamps’ outfit were surprise finalists 13 years ago, but surely only the most ardent of Monaco fans would have predicted the new breed would have a shot at Champions League glory this season.

The principality side are impressing on three fronts, sitting top of Ligue 1 having scored 90 goals in the process and also making it into a French Cup semi-final.

They remain unbeaten in the Champions League this term at Stade Louis II, where scouts from Europe’s top clubs will no doubt be gathering, and have scored three times in each of their knockout games.

Three of the competition’s elite await in the semi-finals, but with confidence oozing through Jardim’s squad and the goals flowing freely, Monaco may be the one they want to avoid.

Man of the match – Thomas Lemar (Monaco)

Monaco - Borussia Dortmund
Thomas Lemar provided six key passes for Monaco, made a game-high seven crosses and also helped his side defensively, making five tackles / Photo via BBC

‘We were in control and showed ambition’

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim: “It could have been 5-3 or 6-3 because both teams missed several chances.

“We played a very solid game, we were in control but we showed ambition. We were always looking for the extra goal, that is the way we play, it is in our DNA.

“Now, regardless of who we will take on next, we will be facing a very experienced team.

“Our rivals will want to draw us [on Friday] but our ambition is to enjoy it and play with our attacking qualities like we always do.”

Falcao on target again – the stats

  • Borussia Dortmund have lost nine of their past 12 games in the Champions League knockout stages.
  • Radamel Falcao has scored 39 goals in the Europa League and Champions League since his debut in October 2009 against Chelsea; only Robert Lewandowski (41), Lionel Messi (77) and Cristiano Ronaldo (85) have more European goals (excl. qualifiers).
  • Marco Reus has been directly involved in 15 goals in his past 13 Champions League appearances for Borussia Dortmund (11 goals, four assists).
  • Kylian Mbappe is the first player to score in each of his first four Champions League knockout games.
  • Mbappe is the sixth player to score in his first four Champions League starts and the first since Diego Costa in 2014.
  • Thomas Lemar is the first player to assist a goal in four consecutive Champions League knockout games since Andres Iniesta in May 2011.

What’s next?

League leaders Monaco return to domestic action on Sunday when they visit fourth-placed Lyon in Ligue 1 before a French Cup semi-final against title rivals Paris St-Germain on Wednesday.

Dortmund are 16 points off Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, who they face in the German Cup on Wednesday, but could move up to third if they beat Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

 

Originally published at BBC

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