RVP double denies Dortmund as Gunners progress
Arsenal 2-1 Borrusia Dortmund
Robin van Persie 49th , 89th
Shinji Kagawa 90th
Arsenal went through to the knockout stage of the Champions League after winning German side Dortmund 2-1 at the Emirates. Much has been talked about of the young German Champions that have been making waves in the Budesliga. Afterall, they were going into this game from the back of winning 21 times German Champions Bayern Munich 1-0 at the Allianz.
Borrusia Dortmund started the game in dominating fashion playing a high line. It has been quite some time since this OPOD reporter watched a professional game with 21men in 1 half and it was in the Arsenal half. Dortmund kept up the pressure throughout the first half and stringed together quite a number of one touch passes but was unlucky as they saw two players taken off due to injury with German Starlet Mario Goetze among the injured.
The best chance though came early in the game as a Dortmund through ball that was too close for comfort was swept up by the alert Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal on the other hand were lucky as they managed to survive the first half without conceding even though Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa was evidently on top form stringing plays together and weighing in with a fair share of shots and penetrative runs.
German teams are famous for their defence and physical play but whatever Dortmund Manager Jurgen Klopp taught his charges, defence from the top was among them. The Dortmund players may have defended as a unit and attacked as a unit but their strikers and midfielders slide and tackled for almost every possible ball they think they can get.
The second half started in Dortmund’s favour again but it was evident Arsene Wenger made some changes to the tactics as Arsenal started to open up their game. A cross from Dortmund came in across the face of goal but Arsenal were lucky to be able to put the ball out for a corner that eventually came to nothing.
The opening goal of the game not long after the restart may have came as a surprise for all present as Arsenal’s Alex Song’s moment of brilliance saw him dance through three Dortmund players before putting a cross in to assist Robin van Persie who was on hand to head the cross into the back of the net. The header was simply too strong for Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller even though he managed to get a palm on it.
Dortmund tried to find an answer to RVP’s goal as they pushed forward. A foul from Arsenal’s defender Per Mertesacker saw Dortmund get a free kick 25yards out but substitute Ivan Perisic could only see his deflected free kick go agonizingly close on to the top net.
On the other end, special mention has to go to Dortmund’s centre back Mat Hummels who was commanding in defence showing incredible vision and technique tackling with precision despite only 23 years of age. OPOD won’t be surprised if any teams make a big money move for this rising star in the next transfer window and Italian Giants Juventus are reportedly interested in him.
Arsenal had to wait another 40mins before Van Persie was again on hand to put the sword to Dortmund’s chance of getting back into the game on the 89th minute as he smashed in a flick on from defender Thomas Vermaelen after an Arsenal corner.
Dortmund’s only consolation from the game came from Kagawa who was on hand to tap in extra time. Spirited and adventurous in play, it was still not enough for the Germans and they may well have to settle Europa League football next despite still mathematically in the running to progress into the next round of the competition.
Jurgen Klopp has undoubtedly done wonders to his squad but there still needs to be some investing in the squad for them to mount an effective challenge for the ultimate European title.
Arsene Wenger’s team may have won and Thomas Vermaelean is back in the lineup to provide security for the backline but the Gunners are not going to be contenders in Europe anytime yet. Only the class of van Persie was able to get them the win while Dortmund were ultimately unlucky to see two of their starting eleven get injured so early in the game.
Arsenal won on the pitch but off the pitch, it was another story. The travelling Dortmund fans, all 8000 of them made themselves heard to the 50000 home supporters present. Organized in their choreography and cheering coupled with creativity and style, with waving scarves and jumping action, the home crowd was simply not prepared to match what Dortmund has to offer in the stands.