Dortmund holds on, KO's Real Madrid
Borussia Dortmund held on to book their place in the UEFA Champions League final despite a 2-0 defeat in the second leg of their semifinal with Real Madrid as the Bundesliga side progressed 4-3 on aggregate.
Late strikes from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos set up a dramatic finale in Santiago Bernabeu but Robert Lewandowski's four-goal haul in the first leg last week proved decisive in securing Dortmund's place at Wembley on May 25.
''They put a lot of pressure on us and scored two late goals,'' Dortmund midfielder Kevin Grosskreutz said. ''However we are a great club and deserved to go through. I haven't thought about Wembley yet, let's celebrate now and think about the final tomorrow.''
Real exploded out of the blocks and carved out an excellent chance with only four minutes on the clock when Mesut Ozil stole possession after some slack Dortmund defending on the edge of their own box before releasing Gonzalo Higuan into the area, but the striker's shot was saved by the legs of Roman Weidenfeller.
A dramatic 60-second spell saw Lewandowski volley straight at Diego Lopez after being given far too much space by the Real Madrid defenSe, with play then switching to the other end where Cristiano Ronaldo fired against Weidenfeller when similarly placed at the other end of the field.
Dortmund saw key man Mario Gotze limp out of the action in the 14th minute and their defence was opened up again immediately after as Ozil was released by Higuan, but the Germany midfielder dragged his shot wide of the near post when he had time to advance or pick a pass.
Having weathered the early storm, Dortmund gradually gained a foothold in the game and the remainder of the opening period passed with few further defensive alarms, although referee Howard Webb was kept busy by some physical tactics, with Fabio Coentrao going into the book for a nasty challenge on Lewandowski.
The Poland striker had two glorious chances to put the tie to bed early in the second period only to blaze over the top when well placed in the box before smashing an even better opportunity against the underside of the cross bar seconds later after being played in by Marco Reus.
Jose Mourinho made a double change in the 57th minute with Higuan and Coentrao making way for Karim Benzema and Kaka in a bid to find a way through the Dortmund backline which was being superbly marshalled by Mats Hummels.
Diego Lopez then made an outstanding stop to keep Real alive, plunging to his right to block Gundogan's close-range shot after Marco Reus' quick-thinking had opened up the home defence, while Lewandowski felt he was pulled back as he headed wide soon after.
Ronaldo, who had been largely subdued by his own high standards, worked a yard of space for himself on the edge of the Dortmund box with 20 minutes to go only to toe-poke his shot over Weidenfeller's bar, with Kaka stabbing an effort the wrong side of the post moments later.
Lewandowski saw another shot blocked by Michael Essien after being found by Reus with Real belatedly breaking the deadlock eight minutes from time when Ozil's teasing centre was converted at close range by Benzema.
After being so assured for so much of the game, Dortmund were suddenly struggling to cope with the waves of Real attacks, with Sergio Ramos being set up by Benzema to fire high into the net in the 88th minute, but there was to be no dramatic leveller in six minutes of added time.
''It's a shame. Sometimes you lose, that is football,'' Ramos said. ''In Dortmund we should have played the way we did tonight. We feel for the fans. It's a shame to have been so close but the missed chances in the first half were costly.''
No team has overcome a three-goal deficit from the first leg in a Champions League knockout stage matchup since Deportivo La Coruna beat AC Milan 4-0 in the 2003-04 quarterfinals for a 5-4 aggregate win.
Madrid was eliminated in the semifinals for the third straight year under Mourinho, and the coach hinted again after the game that this season will be his last in Spain. Asked whether he'll still be at the club next season, the Portuguese coach said ''maybe not,'' before indicating he wants to return to England.
''I know in England I'm loved,'' Mourinho said. ''And in Spain the situation is a bit different.''
The Associated Press was used in this report.