Borussia Dortmund v Napoli –
Final Score/Result: Dortmund 3-1 Napoli
Man Of The Match: Marco Reus
The equation was clear for Borussia Dortmund ahead of this game, win against Napoli or settle for a place in the Europa League. The German side produced a brilliant performance on the night and has now kept their hopes alive of making it through, but now they will have beat Marseille in France and pray for the right result between Napoli and Arsenal.
The match started at frantic pace and there were a lot of chances for both the sides in what turned out to be a very open game of football. Dortmund were handed over an early lead the game as Federico Fernandez fouled Robert Lewandowski while defending a corner. Marco Reus stepped up to take the resultant penalty and scored past Pepe Reina. It was the sort of start that Jürgen Klopp’s men needed in this match and they didn’t look back since then.
Almost immediately after this goal Dortmund had a golden opportunity to double their lead as Henrikh Mkhitaryan set up Lewandowski with a lovely pass, but the Polish striker failed to hit the back of the net. Chances began to arrive at regular interval for the German side at this point as Pepe Reina made a brilliant save from a Marco Reus free-kick in the 17th minute of the match. After this initial dominance from Dortmund, Napoli slowly found their feet in the game and created some chances of their own on the other side of the pitch. Jose Callejon came close to levelling the score as his wonderful run and shot from the right hit the far post.
After securing the lead Dortmund sat back and looked to hit Napoli on the counter attack and they missed some golden opportunities to move out of sight as Pepe Reina made some wonderful saves – first from a long distance of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and then closing down Lewandowski after the forward was set up by Blaszczykowski.
Finally the crucial second goal did arrive as Dortmund picked apart Napoli’s defence on the break once again. This time Marco Reus set up Jakub Blaszczykowski, after darting down the left wing, with a wonderful pass across the penalty box. The 27-year-old midfielder kept his calm and finished past Reina.
Like Reina, Weidenfeller was forced to make some brilliant saves as well in the second half and his performance in this win must not be overlooked. The Italian side did finally manage to score though as Napoli won back the back the ball in Dortmund’s half in the 71st minute. Gonzalo Higuain set up Lorenzo Insigne with a pass in-behind the Dortmund defence and the Italian international’s shot scrapped into the far post corner. That goal provided Napoli of getting something out of this game, but Dortmund hit back almost immediately.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who came on as a substitute in the second half and missed a glorious opportunity after being played through by Lewandowski, was once again provided with another opportunity by the striker and this time the 24-year-old attacker scored with a lovely dink over the on rushing goalkeeper.
Jürgen Klopp was delighted with the win, but felt that his side wasted a lot of opportunities. He also praised his opponents, who contributed to making this an exciting encounter. Now he hopes to get the right result in the ‘final’ at Marseille.
“We knew this would be a spectacular game but I didn’t expect so many chances and so much excitement. We wasted a lot of opportunities, but [Pepe] Reina also made some great saves. We worked hard today and recorded a richly-deserved win. However, Napoli were very tough opponents and it wasn’t easy for us.
“It was obvious that the team lost their assurance when Napoli pulled it back to 2-1. They didn’t realise that the goal actually had no effect on our situation and so they started to attack again. It was an enjoyable game to watch, but in an intense kind of way.
“[Matchday six opponents] Marseille have some good players who know how to play when given space. But we are now in a perfect position and we want to take advantage of that. It will not be a walk in the park, but the best thing we could have accomplished was to secure this ‘final’ in Marseille. They obviously have a lot of quality, just like any other team in the Champions League.” – The Borussia Dortmund manager told the press.
Rafa Benitez was disappointed with the loss, especially in the way they conceded an early goal, but was pleased with the way his side responded against a quality side.
“That early penalty changed the game, because it’s not easy to face Dortmund when you are 1-0 down so early on. However, I think we played well. We had a great chance to equalise in the second half and immediately after that they scored their second. But we managed to stay in the game and work our way back into it with a goal from [Lorenzo] Insigne.
“All I can do is congratulate my players because they played well against a great side. We are still growing as a team but the level we reached today for some periods of the game was very significant. Dortmund are a team who have been playing for six years under the same coach and they reached the final last season. They have pace and quality but we responded well.
“Our mentality is to try to win every game against every opponents. We played with the right mentality today. However, we were up against one of the best counterattacking teams in Europe and it was not easy after going behind so early in the game.” – The Napoli manager said after the game.
Dortmund v Napoli – Statistics
Marco Reus produced a brilliant performance in attack for Dortmund last night. The German club needed its big players to deliver on such a crucial game and Reus delivered. He scored the first goal with a well-taken penalty and set up Blaszczykowski to score the second. The 24-year-old was a constant threat on the counter-attacks with his pace and direct running and created numerous opportunities for side, although they failed to convert most of them. The above heat-map depicts his movement and positioning on the pitch against the Italian side last night.