Erling Haaland's Brace Guides Dortmund Past Neymar, PSG 2-1 in UCL Thriller

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2020

DORTMUND, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 18: Erling Braut Haaland of Borussia Dortmund looks on during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain at Signal Iduna Park on February 18, 2020 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images)
PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

Erling Haaland's goals helped Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 and take control of their UEFA Champions League tie in the last 16 on Tuesday night.

Haaland scored twice during eight remarkable second-half minutes that also included Neymar finding the net at the Westfalenstadion. Neymar had temporarily equalised by scoring what could prove to be a crucial away goal, but Haaland's second left the 28-year-old, Kylian Mbappe and former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel stunned at the end of the first leg.

Neither side managed to sparkle during a dismal first half. What credible chances there were went the way of the hosts, with Haaland firing into the side netting before glancing a header wide.

Meanwhile, Keylor Navas was called into action when he made a fine save to palm away a shot from the lively Jadon Sancho.

PSG could offer little response because of the rigid shape and discipline Dortmund played with. A back three ably protected by midfield enforcer Axel Witsel denied space between the lines and shooting opportunities:

Les Parisiens were struggling to create, with Neymar often dropping too deep into midfield to collect the ball. His wanderlust was reducing the support for Mbappe in PSG's 4-3-3 setup, a problem noted by Get French Football News writer Jeremy Smith:

Things didn't appear to have changed once the second half got underway. The visitors were still pedestrian and predictable in possession, while Dortmund posed a threat on the counter.

Real Madrid loanee Achraf Hakimi broke clear on the right and was only denied by a sprawling stop from Navas as the angle closed. Rather than becoming frustrated by another opportunity wasted, Dortmund rallied to take the lead through Haaland, who poked the ball over from close range after a deflection fell kindly into his path.

By reacting quickest, Haaland kept alive a streak of getting off the mark at the first time of asking for the club he joined from Salzburg in December:

PSG appeared to be in trouble, but a squad with this much star power is never out of a game for long. So it proved as Neymar equalised less than six minutes later after being teed up by Mbappe.

The multi-million-pound combination worked exactly the way it's supposed to, with Mbappe speeding past defenders on the flank before crossing for an unmarked Neymar in the middle.

Neymar can often be criticised for being on the fringes of big games, but the Brazil international has already surpassed two of his county's legends at this level:

The frenetic nature of the contest reached its epic peak when Haaland completed his brace barely two minutes after Neymar had found the net.

Ultimately, Dortmund's only regret will be failing to pad the lead. Neymar's goal means PSG are still likely to go through, despite looking at times in the first leg like they were as far removed from being able to lift this trophy as possible.

   

What's Next?

Dortmund face Werder Bremen away in the Bundesliga on Saturday, while PSG host Bordeaux in the French top flight on Sunday.

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