Germany's Borussia Dortmund nearly pulled off a sensational comeback 1-1 draw against heavily-favored Manchester City Tuesday evening at the Etihad.
Unfortunately, German international Ilkay Gündogan set up England's Phil Foden for a 90th minute goal and Pep Guardiola's citizens snagged a 2-1 victory in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal draw.
BVB head-coach Edin Terzic opted for youth in the first leg of a crucial UCL tie on Tuesday night. Terzic handed recently called-up 19-year-old Ansgar Knauff his first start for the senior side. Knauff served opposite captain Marco Reus and just ahead of fellow teenager Jude Bellingham on the left wing.
Emré Can also moved into midfield to buttress Bellingham and Mahmoud Dahoud. Mateu Morey returned to work as a right full back while Raphäel Guerreiro moved back into defense as the left full back. Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji quarterbacked the play from central defense.
The underdog German visitors got off to a lively start with Reus, Bellingham, and lead striker Erling Haaland all getting looks at goal inside the opening ten minutes. A clear tactical shift ordered by Guardiola, however, eventually ended up stalling the BVB ranks.
A triplicate striker set of Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva maintained wild rotations with midfielders Gündogan, Kevin de Bruyne, and Rodrigo Cascante. This made matters highly challenging for the Dortmund back line.
By the 15th minute, City had scored the opening goal. De Bruyne stepped up and shook off Dahoud before executing a lovely give-and-go with Mahrez. The Algerian returned a exquisite cross for De Bruyne, who finished from close to the touchline.
The dominant EPL hosts thought they had the sure 2-0 when Can supposedly hauled down Rodrigo in the box at the half-hour mark. VAR replays confirmed that the there was no penalty, but Can was still booked for pre-emptive dissent.
More officiating woes for Dortmund saw the supposed equalizer cancelled out seven minutes later. Bellingham's tally was negated when match official Ovidiu Alin Hategan decided that the 17-year-old had fouled in the lead up. As debatable as the call was, VAR could not intervene in this case.
Dortmund continued to fight in search of the equalizer. Haaland saw a great chance saved by keeper Ederson three minutes after the restart. At the other end Marwin Hitz denied City on their best effort in the 65th.
Captain Marco Reus tied matters up with an excellent solo run and finish following a Haaland through ball a mere six minutes from the end of normal time. Regrettably, the Schwarzgelben couldn't escape one last defensive lapse.
Substitute Thomas Meunier directed a De Bruyne cross into Gündogan's path in the 90th. The German national team player than laid off for Foden. The close range finish was all too easy.
As disappointed as the Dortmund camp may be, the result leaves them still competitive for advancement. The second leg takes place next Wednesday at Signal Iduna Park.