AS Monaco pulled off a 3-2 win against Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, in an extremely tense match filled with ups and downs.
The rescheduled Borussia Dortmund vs AS Monaco match included an array of intense moments coupled with the usual – penalties, yellow cards, passionate fans and an unfortunate own goal.
It was a rather satisfying match since it had that raw Champions League flavour that we all know and love. Right from the beginning to the end, the match kept even the neutrals on the edge of their seats.
Known for being defensively strong and keeping possession, Dortmund looked rather shoddy in the first half. However, Thomas Tuchel’s men regained their spirit and put up a much better performance after half time.
Monaco, on the other hand, emerged as the team that luck seemingly chose to favour in this game, especially in the first half. Right from missing a penalty and Mbappe’s goal, to the ill-fated own goal courtesy Sven Bender, Monaco looked upbeat despite Dortmund enjoying close to 70% possession at one point.
Without further ado, lets get on to the five most talked-about points in this game.
Bomb blast’s impact on Dortmund’s performance
On the actual day of the match, the football fraternity was shocked to learn of a triple bombing near the Dortmund team bus. As a result, Marc Bartra was injured and rushed to the hospital, while the match got rescheduled.
The trauma of the entire incident can take a toll on anybody. Dortmund is a team that is famous for its strong defence, but on this match day, their defence was completely off point. They stayed true to their usual possession-based football, but controlling possession failed to do much for them as the German club was struggling through out the first half.
Sven Bender’s own goal did not help, and that just added to their woes. However, they did put up a cleaner performance in the second half. Moussa Dembele and Shinji Kagawa’s goals lifted some pressure off the home side.
Monaco’s penalty specialist Fabinho’s controversial chance – and subsequent miss!
Any Champions League qualifying match is a stage set for drama. As passion and football weave its charm, some sort of upset or miracle is bound to happen. And it did for Monaco, within the first 17 minutes of the game.
A penalty was awarded to Monaco on the basis of a very controversial tackle on Mbappe by Sokratis. As the Dortmund players tried to reason with the referee, it was decided that Fabinho – who has a rather impressive penalty record – will take up the responsibility.
Unfortunately for Monaco, Fabinho’s strike was too wide even as goalkeeper Roman Burki dived in the right direction in an attempt to save it.
The result of the match turned out to be in the French club’s favour, but had things not worked out for them, that miss could have potentially turned out to be quite costly.
Amid the speculations over his future, Bernardo Silva put up a classy performance
Touted as Monaco’s magical playmaker, Bernardo Silva was reported to be quite in demand among top Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United. If anything, his performance in a big game like this will just increase the offers he’s been getting.
The youngster has blended in perfectly with Mbappe and Radamel Falcao. In tonight’s match, it was less about what he did and more about the way he did it. It is amazing to think how he can creatively outplay his opponents instead of relying on brute physical strength.
Right before half time, Silva almost set up Falcao for another goal, but his shot got blocked.
With a brilliant performance in the first half, expectations were high from him even in the second half. However, he got a bit sloppy for a moment or two in the second half before being replaced by Nabil Dirar.
Mbappe youngest player in the Champions League to net two goals in the knockout stage
Mbappe was talked about throughout the course of the match. At first, there was that controversial tackle on him by Sokratis which gifted Monaco a penalty. Then, he fired up Monaco’s chances with a goal which could’ve been offside (the football pundits won’t stop arguing about this for a while), and another goal in the 34th minute.
Although Mbappe’s first goal was not declared offside, eagle-eyed fans posted screenshots of an aerial replay which hint at the fact that the youngster might’ve been offside. The Frenchman tucked away Thomas Lemar’s cross, but then in replays, it can be seen that the player was offside by some distance.
Sokratis was Dortmund’s deepest defender at that point, but the centre-back was still nowhere near Mbappe’s front foot.
Meanwhile, his second goal just added onto Dortmund’s misery, even as the ecstatic Monaco fans lauded their new hero.
Dortmund’s resurgence in the second half
Not a team to accept defeat easily, Dortmund showed immense perseverance as they reversed their fortune to some extent after half time. They looked a lot tighter and their defence wasn’t as clumsy as the first half.
Sublime performances from Kagawa, Pulisic, Dembele and Aubameyang salvaged Tuchel’s men for the night.
It was pretty clear that they were missing Marc Bartra in the defence, even as Sven Bender struggled to fill his shoes. Given the circumstances, Dortmund enjoyed a comeback on a strong note.
Goals from Kagawa and Dembele brought about sighs of relief and exultation among the Dortmund camp as they were hopeful once again.
Considering the trauma they had to go through after the bomb attack, and their miserable display in the first half, Dortmund did quite well and full credit to them for managing to turn things around.
With a 1-0 aggregate, the second leg is bound to be another nail-biter as Dortmund will take on Monaco again at Stade Louis II.