That Manchester City was scared against Dortmund in their Etihad Stadium. The Citizens never managed to get to safety after opening the scoring and they almost paid dearly for it. The equalizer of Dortmund, on one of the rare clear German chances, did not finally knock out the English who were able to re-mobilize at the very end of the match to go and snatch victory. But this goal conceded at home could weigh very heavily in the balance when it comes to the accounts after the second leg.
Yet Kevin de Bruyne had shown the way for the Citizens. On the opening scoring (19th), the Belgian had been omnipresent, at the start and at the end of the action. It was he who made the difference in midfield to project his team forward, before perfectly taking a center back from Ryad Mahrez to crucify Marwin Hitz in the German goal. City’s 18th consecutive goal in the competition, a record. Admittedly, the English did not shine, but they had their foot on the ball against the Germans in lack of offensive inspiration.
German youth toiled
Facing the former club of his father Alf-Inge Haaland, Manchester City defender in the early 2000s, Erling was very little watered of balls, in the absence of his usual sidekick Jadon Sancho, injured. Ansgar Knauf, 19, established for the first time in professional, was somewhat shy at the side of the Norwegian giant. Haaland had to wait until the second half to be dangerous by showing his power against Ruben Diaz before missing his duel against Ederson.
Borussia Dortmund will long regret the contentious decision of Ovidiu Hategan in favor of the English. The very young Jude Bellingham (17 years old) had come to intercept the ball in the feet of Ederson to go alone on goal (38th), but it was without counting a dubious fault whistled by the referee which prevented the German equalizer. A decision that would have given a whole different turn to the meeting.
In the end, it was not the German youth who surprised Pep Guardiola’s players but the experience of Marco Reus (84th), perfect against Ederson, who had just equalized against the run of the game. But the English really wanted to this 27th victory in 28 matches in all competitions, and finally left it to the young Briton Phil Foden to save the essential: victory.