Dortmund sink wasteful Chelsea, Benfica put one foot in quarterfinals

Karim Adeyemi of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 leg one match between Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea FC at Signal Iduna Park on February 15, 2023 in Dortmund, Germany. 

A superb length-of-the-field goal from Borussia Dortmund forward Karim Adeyemi helped his side to a 1-0 win over Chelsea on Wednesday, putting them in the box seat to qualify for the Champions League quarterfinals.

Adeyemi’s goal came during a period of sustained dominance from the visitors early in the second half, with the Germany forward pouncing on a clearance from a Chelsea corner.

Adeyemi sensed the opportunity and ran the length of the field, rounding both Enzo Fernandez and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to give Dortmund the lead in the first leg tie.

Dortmund captain Jude Bellingham told German TV when Adeyemi finds himself in space “not many players can really stop him.” “He had a tough time coming here at the start, but now he’s flying.”

After the match, Adeyemi praised his side’s desire to fight for giving them an advantage ahead of March’s return leg in London.

“I had a little bit of luck, but I’m really happy about the goal,” he said. “Everyone fought for everyone else – (the win) was really important for the return leg.”

Chelsea manager Graham Potter hailed his team’s performance but lamented their failure to score.

“We were close to scoring ourselves. They broke on us. It’s disappointing, we need to do better,” he said. “We have a team in progress, we know there are a lot of positive things there.”

The win means Dortmund only need a draw in London to progress to the quarterfinals for the second time in the past four years.

Elsewhere, Benfica also closed in on a place in the Champions League quarterfinals after easing to a 2-0 victory over Club Brugge in Belgium in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Both goals came in the second half at the Jan Breydelstadion, with Joao Mario opening the scoring from the penalty spot six minutes after the restart and substitute David Neres putting daylight between the teams by pouncing on sloppy defending to add another goal late on.

The Portuguese league leaders, who lost to Liverpool in the last eight last season, will be expected to complete the job when the sides meet in Lisbon for the second leg on March 7.

“When you play the first leg away from home in a Champions League tie and win it is always a good first step. We are halfway there,” said Benfica coach Roger Schmidt.

Schmidt’s team have lost just once in their domestic league in this campaign and topped their Champions League group ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

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