Neither Liverpool nor Dortmund could quite grab the game by the scruff of the neck in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-finals, but the Reds will be the more satisfied side after a 1-1 draw at Signal Iduna Park.
Liverpool came away with an impressive 1-1 draw against favourites Dortmund on Thursday and grabbed the all-important away goal — often a telling factor in European encounters. A back and forth first half was turned on its head as Belgian forward Divock Origi struck for Liverpool in the 36th minute. The home side immediately went all out in search of an equalizer, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being denied by Dejan Lovren just before half time.
Captain Mats Hummels eventually gave Die Schwarzgelben the much needed equalizing goal, heading in a Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross in the 48th minute. However the winner remained out of reach for both sides as Liverpool put on a tight defensive display, while Dortmund’s Roman Weidenfeller pulled off a string of great saves to deny the Reds. The final score of 1-1 was an accurate reflection of Dortmund’s wastefulness in possession and an inspired defensive performance by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The Reds played a high pressing, low possession, counter-attacking game, with Dortmund having a whopping 63% of the ball. However, the Germans failed to create many chances even with so much possession. Although their 16 shots on goal eclipsed Liverpool’s 13, six of them came from set plays. Liverpool registered eleven shots on goal from open play — more than Dortmund’s ten — which reflects poorly on Thomas Tuchel’s side considering the amount of possession they had.
Jurgen Klopp will be pleased with the result as Liverpool go into the second leg with a very good chance of progressing. Borussia Dortmund must get on the scoresheet at Anfield to progress to the next round and next week could be a historic night for Liverpool if they manage to stifle the Germans once again.
Roman Weidenfeller – 7.5/10
The German keeper was a fiery presence at the back for Dortmund. He managed to steady some nerves early on and pull off some brilliant saves to deny Liverpool. He was unfortunate to let in Divock Origi’s effort, with the defence mainly to blame for the Belgian being allowed to run through on goal.
Lukasz Piszczek – 6/10
The Dortmund right-back was useful going forward, but had lapses in defence. He allowed the Reds to exploit the space behind him and did not track back enough to deal with Liverpool’s threat from the wings.
Sven Bender – 6.5/10
Bender was harassed by Origi’s pace and power, but fulfilled his defensive duties well. His blocks and interceptions were crucial at keeping Liverpool at bay, particularly in the second half.
Mats Hummels – 7/10
The Dortmund captain wasn’t at his imperious best at the back, but his perfectly headed goal gave Dortmund something to fight for in the second leg.
Marcel Schmelzer – 6/10
Schmelzer was harangued by Origi but was a potent attacking force, even winning a free kick in a promising area which Reus failed to make the most of.
Gonzalo Castro – 5/10
Didn’t have much of an impact in midfield and was largely not very influential.
Julian Weigl – 7/10
Was Dortmund’s most assured presence in midfield, setting up play and providing though balls and crosses galore.
Erik Durm – 5/10
Failed to have much of an impact on the game.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7/10
Was a constant threat for BVB in the first half and provided an excellent corner kick for Hummels to head in the equalizing goal. Mkhitaryan was dealt with effectively by the Reds defense, reducing his impact on the game.
Marco Reus – 4.5/10
A lot was expected from the German winger in this big match, but he failed to deliver. Was largely ineffective in attack and scuppered a free kick from a very promising area.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6/10
The clinical striker found himself up against a very tight defence and could not manage to beat the Red wall. His sliding chance at the end of the first half was the closest he came to finding the back of the net.
Simon Mignolet – 7/10
The Belgian keeper pulled off a couple of Cruyff turns, but managed to put in a good show for Liverpool between the posts. Made some good saves and looked confident in a packed penalty area.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6.5/10
The Liverpool right-back put in an impressive attacking display, but needs to pay more attention to his defensive duties as well in the future.
Dejan Lovren – 7.5/10
The Croatian was instrumental in Liverpool’s solid defensive display and his block on Aubameyang’s sliding attempt at the end of the first half proved to be a crucial moment in the game. Had one of his better games in a Liverpool shirt.
Mamadou Sakho – 7.5/10
The Frenchman formed a strong backbone at the back with Lovren. Good clearances, crucial blocks and a composed presence in the penalty area — it was a clinical performance from Liverpool’s first-choice centre-back.
Alberto Moreno – 7/10
The Spanish left-back enjoyed a good game for the Reds and put in one of his most convincing defensive performances this season.
Emre Can – 7/10
The German defensive midfielder has come into his own under Jurgen Klopp and was impressive against Dortmund. He carried the ball well and set up attacks, but had to be careful after picking up a booking early on.
Jordan Henderson – 4.5/10
Just like Reus, Henderson was a big player who did not step up in the big game. He was taken off at half time due to injury, but failed to command the midfield when he was on the pitch.
James Milner – 8/10
The veteran midfielder used his experience and skill to great effect and was the best footballer on the pitch. He provided the assist for Origi, dealt with Dortmund threats with ease and even put in an inch perfect cross which Dejan Lovren failed to convert.
Adam Lallana – 6/10
The Englishman had a quiet outing for Liverpool this time around. His poor man marking also allowed Mats Hummels to head in the equalizer.
Philippe Coutinho – 7/10
The Brazilian was another player who remained relatively quiet for Liverpool given the lofty standards he has set for himself. He had a brilliant attempt denied by Roman Weidenfeller, who also stopped the rebound from the Brazilian.
Divock Origi – 8/10
The Belgian was picked ahead of Daniel Sturridge and repaid the manager’s faith in him, scoring the all important away goal for Liverpool. Apart from the strike, he was an assured presence up front for the Reds, constantly threatening with power and pace.
Dortmund need to win at Anfield
Borussia Dortmund will be the unhappier of the two sides after the first leg. After dominating against Tottenham in the previous round, Tuchel’s side couldn’t take advantage of all the possession they had against Liverpool and allowed the Reds to score an away goal.
They now have their task cut out for them in the second leg at Anfield. Dortmund have to get on the scoresheet to have any chance of beating their former mentor Jurgen Klopp if they want to progress to the next round.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will be feeling confident after the hard fought draw and will be eager to claim a historic victory in front of their home fans. With these two teams being the biggest left in the Europa League, the match takes on even greater significance.