Borussia Dortmund advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. The Black and Yellows won the tie with an aggregate score of 5-1.
Thomas Tuchel seemed to rest a few players, most notably Mats Hummels, with his team selection. Or so we thought, until sporting director Michael Zorc told German broadcaster Sport1 that the team captain is suffering from slight muscle problems and that he’d only play in an emergency.
Erik Durm didn’t start, either, after picking up a knock to his backside at the weekend. His absence didn’t prevent Tuchel from playing with five at the back to start the game, however. Matthias Ginter played at right-back and Lukasz Piszczek took up Durm’s role as the right-wingback.
Spurs looked intent to give Dortmund a much bigger fight than last week early on, but that initial wave of enthusiasm lasted a mere 15 minutes, if even that.
Truth be told, the game was pretty flat with not a lot happening in either penalty box. Dortmund were in total control and seemed to relax with the three-goal advantage in the backs of their minds: They’d take what Spurs gave them, but not stress themselves.
A wonderstrike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 24th minute was the first and easily the biggest highlight of the entire game. Approximately 27 yards from goal, the Gabonese fired off a hopeful shot that took a nasty turn for Hugo Lloris in Spurs’ goal. It was a truly sensational strike from Aubameyang, and it was the final nail in the coffin for an already more than unlikely comeback from the hosts.
Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had good opportunities to double the lead before the half-time break, but incredible interventions from Toby Alderweireld and hesitance on their part denied the Black and Yellows.
Spurs, meanwhile, had their only goalscoring chance of the half in the 41st minute, when the ball fell to Son Heung-min, but the man who’s only hobby seems to be scoring against Roman Weidenfeller put it wide.
Somewhat surprisingly, Tuchel made no changes for the second half. Sokratis Papastathopoulos, however, had to leave the pitch just eight minutes into the second period with an apparent injury, he was replaced by Durm. Ginter moved to centre-back for the first time since August in his absence.
Christian Pulisic then came on for Marco Reus, who can always use a bit of rest during this brutal stretch of Dortmund’s season.
The match stagnated at this point, until it was again Aubameyang’s turn to wake everyone up. He converted a class assist from Mkhitaryan in the 71st minute.
Dortmund looked set to earn their 11th clean sheet of the calendar year, only for Neven Subotic to throw it away. The Serbian defender, who had played a very strong match in place of Hummels, completely misjudged an easy pass back to Roman Weidenfeller in goal and gifted Son the consolation goal.
The Black and Yellows had a few chances to restore their two-goal lead in the final minutes of the game, but neither side really went for it at that point.
Dortmund never broke much of a sweat despite missing a few key players in Sven Bender, Hummels and Ilkay Gündogan. Their 3-0 win at the Westfalenstadion proved too big a mountain to climb for a Spurs side that, truth be told, never really tried to do just that.
The Black and Yellows are still the team to beat in the Europa League and now eagerly await their opponent in the quarter-finals.
The draw will take place at 1300 CET on Friday, March 18.
Make sure to check back for instant reaction to Dortmund’s opponent right here.