After beginning the 2023/24 Champions' League group stage in less than inspiring fashion, Borussia Dortmund have recovered with three consecutive wins in the competition. A 3-1 victory over AC Milan at the San Siro guarantees European tournament football for Dortmund in the new calendar year.
Terzic made just one change to the XI that started in the weekend comeback league win over Gladbach. Julian Brandt, unavailable after he too succumbed to a wave of sickness infecting the Dortmund camp, made way for Donyell Malen. The Dutchman took Marco Reus' place on the right wing while the former BVB skipper slid over to Brandt's centralized position. The visiting Westphalians remained in the same 4-2-3-1 formation as in the most recent league encounter.
The match got off to a turbulent start with penalties awarded on both sides. Unfortunately for the Italian hosts, Olivier Giroud was unable to convert from the spot in the 6th minute after a Nico Schlotterbeck handball accorded his side the chance to go ahead early. At the other end, an unfair challenge on Bynoe-Gittens in the box gave Dortmund their own chance from the spot in the 9th. Reus duly converted for the 1-0 lead. The deficit took a lot of air out of the Serie A side.
After nearly an entire half-hour during which the Germans were the superior side, however, Milan were able to strike back and restore parity. Same Chukwueze went on a scintillating solo-run inside the box, passing both Bynoe-Gittens and Ramy Bensebaini. Schlotterbeck once again factored into the tally in the worst way, deflecting Chukwueze's shot in for the 37th minute 1-1. The very active Christian Pulisic came close to helping his side go ahead before the break.
The former Dortmund star reached reached Davide Calabria with a clever flick at 45+3. The AC Milian captain ended up heading wide from close range. Pulisic produced the first chance of the second half as well, unleashing a powerful shot from the half-left blocked by BVB defender Julian Ryerson. Despite the fact that the Italians effectively stormed out of the gate in the second 45, a patience Dortmund side gradually got their own attack charges rolling. the 2-1 came in the 59th.
Bynoe-Gittens finished off the 2-1 after some nice prep work from Niclas Füllkrug and Marcel Sabitzer. Ten minutes after that, the subbed-on Adeyemi scored a third goal for the German guests. The 21-year-old - very much a subject of criticism over the international break for his decision to decline a U21 call-up - took some intelligent touches outside the box before positioning himself for a centralized effort. AC keeper Mike Maigan could only paw the robustly popped ball over the goal-line.
There was some action on both sides after that. Both Bensebaini and BVB keeper Gregor Kobel had to be on their toes to deny Milan efforts in the final 21 minutes. Ryerson also did well to block another Pulisic effort. Former Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic was unlucky to hit the post, as was Füllkrug. In the end, the 3-1 scoreline held. Dortmund's maximum points haul over the last three matches in the so-called "Group of Death" guarantees them at least second-place in the group.
Elsewhere on Champions' League action on Tuesday evening, RB Leipzig travelled to the Eithad to play a "dead-rubber fixture" against former Dortmund star Erling Haaland. Marco Rose's German Red Bulls - already qualified for the knockouts following their win last round - rushed out to a 2-0 lead against Pep Guradiola's side. Haaland, Phil Foden, and Julian Alvarez nevertheless scored second half goals to cancel out the lead and the match finished 3-2 in favor of the hosts.