Borussia Dortmund frustrated Erling Haaland on his return and held Manchester City to a 0-0 draw Tuesday to clinch a spot in the Champions League knockout stage with a game to spare. (More Football News)
Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel also saved a second-half penalty from Riyad Mahrez to earn Dortmund the point it needed to be sure of finishing second in Group G. Dortmund is through because of its better head-to-head record against Sevilla.
“It was very important for us to take a point and not lose. We are super happy to have qualified,” Kobel said.
City is assured of topping the group before its final game against visiting Sevilla next week, when Dortmund visits FC Copenhagen.
Dortmund coach Edin Terzić opted for a youthful attack with the 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko flanked on either side by Gio Reyna (19) and Karim Adeyemi (20). Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard completed a very offensive lineup.
City counterpart Pep Guardiola rotated his side and handed former Arminia Bielefeld goalkeeper Stefan Ortega his debut on his return to Germany.
But Dortmund made the better start and should have scored in the 16th minute when Adeyemi shot straight at Ortega. Terzić berated the Germany forward for not doing better.
Adeyemi then combined well with Jude Bellingham before setting up Reyna, whose low shot was too close to Ortega.
Meanwhile, veteran defender Mats Hummels was cheered by the home fans for getting the better of former teammate Haaland on several occasions. Guardiola took off his star forward at the break, bringing on Bernardo Silva in his place while former Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji replaced the booked João Cancelo.
Mahrez then had a great chance to break the deadlock with a penalty in the 58th after he had been fouled by Emre Can, but Kobel saved the Algerian’s spot kick.
“I was actually looking forward to (Haaland) taking the penalty, but unfortunately he wasn’t on the field,” Kobel said. It was Mahrez’s second consecutive penalty miss in the competition.
City showed marked improvement as Dortmund’s players tired from their earlier efforts and Kobel was forced into action again to deny İlkay Gündoğan and Julian Alvarez. The visitors continued probing for a late winner but this time Dortmund held on. Haaland decided their previous meeting 2-1 in City’s favor with a late goal last month.