Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Slavia Prague: Sancho and Brandt seal last-16 spot

By Guy Atkinson 11 December 2019 20
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Slavia Prague: Sancho and Brandt seal last-16 spot

Borussia Dortmund qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League thanks to a 2-1 win over Slavia Prague on Tuesday.

Inter's 2-1 loss to Barcelona means Lucien Favre's side finished three points above the Italians in Group F and will be in the hat for the knockout draw, which takes place in Nyon on Monday.

The impressive Jadon Sancho opened the scoring in the 10th minute before Tomas Soucek scored a deserved equaliser for the Czech side shortly before half-time.

However, Julian Brandt sealed the win with a powerful strike shortly after the hour mark, although Dortmund had Roman Burki to thank for their progression after a string of stunning saves either side of Julian Weigl's dismissal for a second yellow card with 13 minutes remaining.

Sancho and Mats Hummels went close inside the opening five minutes for the hosts, while at the other end Burki did well to keep out Peter Olayinka's close-range header.

Winger Sancho was not to be denied in the 10th minute, the England international slotting home from 10 yards after being teed up by Marco Reus, who saw a low effort repelled by the outstretched foot of Ondrej Kolar soon after.

Kolar again denied a clean-through Reus soon after before Burki superbly pushed over Lukas Masopust's deflected effort.

There was little the Dortmund goalkeeper could do to stop Soucek equalising two minutes before the interval, the midfielder sweeping home after Masopust's lofted ball had ripped open the home defence.

Brandt fizzed narrowly over and Raphael Guerreiro forced Kolar into a low save as Dortmund started the second half on top.

Sancho turned provider as Dortmund regained the lead in the 61st minute, Brandt latching onto his precise pass and lashing past Kolar from a tight angle.

Slavia continued to press, though, with Burki forced into a flying save to deny Milan Skoda while Ondrej Kudela inexplicably headed wide from point-blank range at the back post.

Weigl received his marching orders for a second bookable offence before Burki made another magnificent save to keep out Abdulla Yusuf Helal's header as Dortmund advanced.

 

What does it mean? Dortmund indebted to Burki's heroics

On another day, Favre's side could easily have been on the end of a heavy defeat. As it was, they had a goalkeeper in simply stunning form.

Switzerland international Burki pulled off a string of remarkable saves to deny Slavia a first win in this season's competition and bail out his defence after their haphazard display.

Favre knows his side will have to improve dramatically if they are to progress past the last 16 and into the latter stages of this year's competition.

Sancho shines again

His future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks and Sancho once again showed why he is coveted by some of Europe's biggest clubs.

He took his tally to six goals in his last five games across all competitions with a typically composed finish.

Reus' blushes spared

He has been prolific in the Bundesliga this season, scoring eight goals in 14 games, but Reus has still yet to find the net in his side's Champions League campaign.

He had two glorious opportunities in the first half but his efforts were too close to Kolar. He, more than anyone, owes Brandt a debt of gratitude for this vital winner.

Key Opta Facts

- Borussia Dortmund have successfully progressed from the Champions League group stages in six of their last seven campaigns in the competition, only failing in 2017-18.

- Slavia Prague remain winless in 11 Champions League matches (D4 L7) since winning their first ever game in the competition against Steaua Bucharest in September 2007.

- Dortmund have lost just two of their last 16 home group stage games in the Champions League, winning nine and drawing five.

- Sancho became just the second Englishman to score in consecutive Champions League appearances for a non-English club, after Chris Sutton with Celtic in September 2004.

- Brandt has scored (two) or assisted (three) five Champions League goals this season; he had only scored or assisted once in his previous four seasons in the competition with former club Bayer Leverkusen before this (one goal, no assists in 21 appearances).

- Weigl was the first Borussia Dortmund player to be sent off in a home Champions League game since Lars Ricken against Rosenborg in October 1999.

What's next?

Dortmund return to Bundesliga action on Saturday with a trip to Mainz, while Slavia host Dynamo Ceske Budejovice in the Czech First League a day later.

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Guy Atkinson

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