Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Borussia Dortmund 1 Hertha Berlin 1 (aet, 3-2 on penalties): Tuchel breathes a sigh of relief

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Feb 2017

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Borussia Dortmund triumphed 3-2 on penalties to book their place in the last eight of the DFB-Pokal at the expense of Hertha Berlin.

The two sides, with just two places and one point between them in the Bundesliga, had drawn 1-1 in their league meeting in October and that scoreline was replicated after 120 minutes at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ two quickfire bookings for dissent saw Dortmund finish extra time with 10 men before Fabian Lustenberger, Vladimir Darida and Salomon Kalou all erred from the spot, rendering Christian Pulisic’s miss irrelevant.

Dortmund, now unbeaten in nine matches across all competitions, fell behind in the 27th minute when Kalou converted Niklas Stark’s delivery from the right wing.

Seemingly unimpressed by his team’s first-half display, Thomas Tuchel sent on Pulisic and Matthias Ginter at the interval and the former assisted Marco Reus for the equaliser within two minutes.

This encounter was a repeat of last year’s semi-final – a 3-0 win for Dortmund – but Tuchel’s men were given a much sterner examination here and may feel they should have been spared extra time with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang controversially denied a second by the officials in the 57th minute.

Dortmund, losing finalists in each of the past three seasons, were not quite at their best and survived a scare in the ninth minute when Sokratis produced a last-ditch block after his poor control allowed Vedad Ibisevic to race through on goal.

Twice in as many minutes, Aubameyang had the chance to add to his tally of 21 goals this season – first losing his footing in trying to round Rune Jarstein from Ousmane Dembele’s excellent flick, and then seeing the goalkeeper superbly tip his low effort around the post.

Ibisevic nodded over from three yards after Roman Burki had parried John Brooks’ header, but that miss did not prove costly as Kalou broke the deadlock a minute later.

The former Chelsea man made an intelligent run across the Dortmund defence and used the outside of his right foot to volley home Stark’s cross.

Marc Bartra glanced over from Reus’ free-kick as Dortmund sought a rapid riposte, which arrived early in the second period.

Dembele struck the base of the post but Hertha failed to clear and the striker combined with Pulisic, who teed up Reus to sweep home.

Only a fine block from Sebastian Langkamp denied Reus a quickfire second as Hertha wilted, Aubameyang seeing an effort chalked off when the referee deemed the forward to have kicked the ball out of Jarstein’s hand on the line.

Jarstein produced a superb save to keep out Raphael Guerreiro’s effort from range before Dembele shot agonisingly wide in the 81st minute.

The extra period produced little by the way of goalmouth incident – Sokratis dismissed in the 119th minute – before Hertha thrice faltered from 12 yards to send Dortmund through.

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