Robert Lewandowski ripped four goals past nine-time European champion Real Madrid as Borussia Dortmund established a commanding 4–1 lead in their Champions League semifinal on Wednesday in Dortmund, Germany.
With Bayern Munich’s 4–0 demolition of Barcelona on Tuesday, it would seem as though the German clubs have usurped the Spanish giants as the strongest in Europe. With the leads the German clubs now hold, it’s hard to envision them not meeting in the final at Wembley on May 25.
But on Wednesday, it was all about Lewandowski’s heroics as the Polish striker was simply unstoppable. As a striker, he displayed exquisite skill, fearlessness, confidence, and intelligence on his four goals.
Lewandowski first struck in the eighth minute when he fearlessly jabbed home a cross from Mario Gotze. It looked as though Real Madrid’s defender Pepe was well positioned, but the Polish star found a bit of space to connect with the cross.
Dortmund started like a house on fire. Their youth and speed had Madrid on their heels.
But the latter part of the first half was Real Madrid’s best moments of the match. The visitors managed to slow the hosts’ momentum and picked up three straight free kicks in dangerous situations.
Cristiano Ronaldo put the visitors on level terms in the 43rd minute in a play that started when Dortmund defender Mats Hummels made a poor back pass to his keeper. Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain, who had to make a great tackle in his defensive end earlier to counter the Dortmund pressure, raced onto the loose ball and fed Ronaldo for the easy tap in.
The goal was Ronaldo’s 50th in the Champions League and 12th of the current campaign to lead all scorers.
At halftime, being level was all that Madrid could ask for, but the second half would be completely different.
In the 50th minute, Lewandowski put Dortmund ahead for good. Initially, it looked like he was offside, but he had intelligently held his run and received a pass from Marco Reus. Lewandowski found a weakness in the Madrid coverage that allowed him to take the pass and have time to slot it past Diego Lopez in the Madrid goal.
Just five minutes later, Lewandowski scored his most beautiful goal of the four. His exquisite skill was on full display as he took a hard pass, pulled it back with his left foot then his right foot before firing an unstoppable right-footer high past Lopez.
Real Madrid made their life more difficult when, in the 66th minute, Xabi Alonso clattered into Reus in the box resulting in a penalty.
Lewandowski stepped up confidently and smashed a hard, high shot right down the middle of the net for his fourth of the game.
It was a brilliant display of attacking football by the Germans, much like what Bayern had shown a day earlier in Munich.
Given the show Lewandowski was putting on, it’s easy to forget the tireless work done in the midfield by Sven Bender and Ilkay Gundogan in shutting down Mesut Osil and Luka Modric. The Real Madrid creative midfielders were unable to make a mark on the match.
Dortmund and Madrid had met in the group stage with the German club taking four of six points, winning 2–1 in Germany on Oct. 24 and drawing 2–2 in Madrid on Nov. 6.
It was an electric start by Dortmund and a rousing finish. Everything now seems to point to a matchup between the two German giants in the Champions League final. The Spanish sides have much work to do to prevent an all-German Champions League final.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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