Three things we learned from Borussia Dortmund - Man City
Riyad Mahrez’s early second-half penalty, controversially upheld after VAR review, gave Manchester City some relief before Phil Foden smashed any remaining drama out of the tie in a 2-1 UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday at the Westfalenstadion, ending City’s three-year quarterfinal curse and sending Pep Guardiola back to the semifinal.
Erling Haaland’s hard work helped Jude Bellingham put Dortmund in the driver’s seat as the score settled at 2-2 on aggregate with City yet to score an away goal. But City was not frazzled despite the score staying that way into halftime, emerging with a semifinal berth.
Guardiola made it to at least the semifinals in his first six seasons as a manager, winning two European Cups with Barcelona. He had been stopped in the Round of 16 in his first season at City before the three-straight quarterfinals.
Given their advancement this season despite being in a down period of their season, perhaps this is to be City’s year.
Three things we learned from Dortmund - Man City
1. Something to write home about: English teen Jude Bellingham was a star of the first leg and he was very good early at the Westfalenstadion. Still 17 until the end of June, Bellingham looks like the most expensive 17-year-old sale of all-time. The Birmingham City product turned his hips and swung his instep through the ball and a full-stretch Ederson could only get a piece of the ball. Given the burgeoning Liverpool-Man City rivalry, a Jude hasn’t given this much glee to Merseyside since Paul McCartney wrote his seven-minute musical message to John Lennon’s son Julian. Will he become the next Jadon Sancho in dancing through the Premier League transfer rumor mill regarding a return from abroad?
2. No panic on the streets of Manchester: If Pep Guardiola’s men were worried about scoring prior to the Bellingham goal, they were certainly on alert to the task at hand after the opener. Kevin De Bruyne stole a ball atop the 18 and snapped the cross bar before Bernardo Silva appeared to be spun down to no official response while chasing the rebound. There was certainly a question of whether City would find its breakthrough and score, but the gents were not rattled and there was no bottling it, no close-range gaffes to turn into memes as there were when Raheem Sterling missed late against Lyon. City kept pushing for a fourth goal and De Bruyne was stopped by Marwin Hitz. That was a warning sign, as Foden smashed home to the inside post from the edge of the 18.
3. Man City’s penalty woes, relieved: Emre Can bent to nod a cross away from the Dortmund goal and nodded it onto his arm. Would it be the second time in two legs that City would see a given penalty taken away from it? And would Ederson come up to take the penalty after City has missed so many over the past few years? No, and no. Riyad Mahrez stepped to the spot after quite a wait and -- despite what that the statistics say about the length of the wait’s impact on the success of the kick -- the Algerian hammered it home.
Man of the Match: Phil Foden
For everything that went into City building back from the early deficit and finishing their penalty, Foden’s vicious strike to make it 4-2 on aggregate was the moment that validated so many things: From the patience Guardiola demanded in developing the “Stockport
Iniesta Silva” to the calmness of his men under duress and the manager himself abiding by the philosophies that got him here, this had a lot of Pep on it. And as we celebrated Zidane in Real Madrid’s first leg win over Liverpool for his putting Vinicius Junior in big spots at a young age and giving big game wisdom to the kid, we should do the same for Pep and Foden.