Borussia Dortmund win seesaw contest with Atlético Madrid to reach last four

Niclas Fullkrug of Borussia Dortmund competes for the ball with Mario Hermoso of Atletico Madrid during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid at Signal Iduna Park on April 16, 2024 in Dortmund, Germany. 

Just another raw and savage night of Champions League football at the Westfalen: the colours vivid, the sounds ear-shattering, the defences in utter disarray. 

Late goals from Niclas Fullkrug and Marcel Sabitzer secured Borussia Dortmund’s passage to the semi-finals, breaking open an Atlético Madrid who look a grey scale model of the battleships Diego Simeone once produced.

It was flawed and it was chaotic, and even amid Dortmund’s elation there remains the eternal question of whether they are ever going to allow us to take them seriously, whether they will ever escape this riotously entertaining cycle of boom and bust. 

This tie felt like a whole psychodrama in its own right, and one Atlético could quite conceivably have finished within the first half-hour in Madrid.

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If Edin Terzic had learned anything from the pandemonium of that first leg, then it was not immediately evident. 

Again Sabitzer was sent forward as a kind of midfielder without portfolio, sniffing for space, pressing the last man, essentially leaving Emre Can to staff the centre on his own, like a lone nightwatchman patrolling a giant armoury at night. 

For at least the first quarter of the game, Dortmund were a 4-1-5 with the ball, giving them plenty of options but also leaving them desperately vulnerable on the break.

It was a binary perfectly illustrated within the first five minutes. First Sabitzer ghosted into the box to meet Karim Adeyemi’s cross from six yards, only to be denied by a miraculous block from Ceésar Azpilicueta. 

Immediately after that a simple clearance from Axel Witsel was flicked into the path of Álvaro Morata, who suddenly found himself in the clear with half the field to run into. 

Simeone looked genuinely pained – although, it has to be said, not altogether surprised – as Morata bore down on Gregor Kobel’s goal, went for the cheeky dink, and put it wide.

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