Emre Can, and Dan-Axel Zagadou produced horrific performances as Borussia Dortmund bowed out of the Champions League after a defeat to Sporting CP.

Borussia Dortmund were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League after suffering a shocking 3-1 defeat to Sporting CP on Wednesday. The loss helped the Portuguese champions move into second place, and due to a better head to head record against the Germans, they are guaranteed to finish runners-up in the group.

It was yet another disappointing display from Dortmund in Europe, as they struggled to breach the strong and resilient Sporting backline. Their attack, decimated by the absences of key players such as Erling Haaland, Giovanni Reyna and Thorgan Hazard, simply looked clueless in the final third, allowing the opposition to comfortably play on the counter.

Sporting’s patience bore fruit when they capitalised on Nico Schulz’s defensive error to find the breakthrough in the 30th minute. Moments later, the goalscorer Pedro Goncalves produced a brilliant effort from range to double his team’s lead and put further pressure on Dortmund.

The Black and Yellows looked much better in the second half, as they pushed forward to at least pull one back. But their chances of a comeback were effectively sabotaged when Emre Can was awarded a red card in the 74th minute. Shortly afterwards, Dan-Axel Zagadou conceded a penalty to help make it 3-0 for Sporting.

Donyell Malen did score a late goal during injury-time, which proved inconsequential in the end. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will rank the Borussia Dortmund players in their embarrassing defeat to Sporting this midweek.

Gregor Kobel: 7/10

Gregor Kobel was unlucky once again as he was simply not helped by his defensive teammates. Indeed, a shoddy bit of display saw the Swiss international concede three goals, one of which stemmed from an individual error while the other one was scored from a rebound of a saved penalty. He could not have done much from a long-range screamer from Pedro Goncalves but did produce an outstanding save from the penalty.

Thomas Meunier: 5/10

Not the best of performances from Thomas Meunier, who did not offer much quality in the right-back slot. He was struggling to make a difference going forward, with almost none of his crosses managing to find the target. A disappointing display from the Belgian international.

Manuel Akanji: 6/10

Manuel Akanji avoided making any defensive errors on the night, making him the best performing Dortmund defender on the pitch. He looked firm and solid with his tackles but lacked precision with his clearances at times. More importantly, the Swiss international struggled to lead the Dortmund defence in the absence of Mats Hummels.

Marin Pongracic: 5/10

Marco Rose’s decision to start Marin Pongracic ahead of Dan-Axel Zagadou did not pay off well. The former Red Bull Salzburg star looked slow defensively, failing to keep up with the threat of Pablo Sarabia at times. He had to make way for an attacking sub midway through the second half.

Nico Schulz: 3/10

A horrific night for Nico Schulz, who replaced the injured Raphael Guerreiro just before the start. The left-back did not provide anything going forward and gifted Sporting the opener with a grave error in the first half. He was deservedly subbed off at half-time, making way for Emre Can.

Axel Witsel: 5/10

A poor performance once again from Axel Witsel in the middle of the park. His lack of mobility slowed down Dortmund on multiple occasions, rendering them ineffective in the second line of press, especially up against the dynamic Sporting midfielders. He was subbed off around the hour mark.

Jude Bellingham: 6/10

Jude Bellingham was trying to offer the speed and dynamism in the Dortmund midfield. Unfortunately, he looked a tad off colour, but it was largely due to a lack of support provided to him in central midfield. The unrelenting Sporting midfielders also deserve credit for minimising his effectiveness in the middle of the park.

Julian Brandt: 6.5/10

It will be a difficult task to choose the one good outfield performer from Borussia Dortmund in this game, but if ever there was one, it would certainly be Julian Brandt. Especially in the second half, the former Bayer Leverkusen star looked like the only ray of hope for the visitors, with his neat footwork and optimism balls into the final third. He also played a vital role in the build-up to the late goal from Donyell Malen.

Reinier Jesus: 4/10

Gifted a rare starting opportunity in this crucial game, Reinier was unable to make an impact. He looked anonymous for large parts of the game, failing to get the better of the Sporting defence. The Brazilian also struggled with the unrelenting opposition press, losing the ball multiple times.

Marco Reus: 5/10

It was a rare disappointing performance from Marco Reus. The Dortmund captain could not make the difference in the final third, often lacking precision in his passes. He was closed down very quickly by the Sporting defenders, while the German was also sloppy with his first touches.

Donyell Malen: 6/10

Donyell Malen looked extremely selfish during the early stages of the game as he squandered multiple chances. He also missed a marvellous goalscoring opportunity in the first half, though his attempt on target was only cleared by the defenders. In the second half, the Dutchman was willing to spread possession more, which improved his game, even earning him a late goal.


Emre Can: 1/10

Emre Can was brought in at half-time to improve the game. Yet, the former Liverpool man somehow managed to make things worse for Dortmund, producing an early defensive error before going on to start a fight on the pitch and earning a red card, effectively sabotaging his team’s chances in this encounter.

Steffen Tigges: 5/10

Steffen Tigges was introduced in the 67th minute to add the physical and aerial presence up front. However, the Sporting CP defenders expertly contained the reserve team striker and used his lack of pace to their advantage by giving him the space to run in behind.

Mahmoud Dahoud: 5/10

Mahmoud Dahoud did not make much of an impact after coming on for Witsel during the game’s final phase. He was unlucky enough to not receive much support from his teammates.

Dan-Axel Zagadou: 2/10

Dan-Axel Zagadou did not cover himself in glory after coming on in the second half. He conceded the penalty and was too late to react to Kobel’s save, thus being culpable for conceding the goal that helped the opposition knock Dortmund out of the competition.

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