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Lethal Haaland hailed as 'one of the world's best'

China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-19 07:43
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Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland shields the ball from a Sevilla player during their UEFA Champions League last-16, first-leg match in Seville, Spain on Wednesday. Haaland scored twice in a 3-2 win for Dortmund. REUTERS

Norwegian's commanding display leaves shell-shocked Sevilla in awe

SEVILLE, Spain-Erling Braut Haaland produced another deadly display of finishing with a first-half brace as Borussia Dortmund came from behind to beat Sevilla 3-2 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Spain on Wednesday.


Suso's deflected strike gave last season's Europa League winner an early lead behind closed doors at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, but Mahmoud Dahoud soon equalized before Haaland took over.

The Norwegian phenomenon put Dortmund in front in the 27th minute and then scored again two minutes before halftime. The goals took his tally to 25 in 24 appearances in all competitions this term.

Still aged just 20, Haaland has scored 18 times in just 13 Champions League appearances since the start of last season.

Substitute Luuk de Jong's late reply gave Sevilla cause for hope heading into the return leg on March 9, but Dortmund remains favorite to progress to the last eight.

"We didn't deserve to lose, but in the end they had one of the best players in the world up front and he made the difference in three situations which could have been avoided," said Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui.

Haaland, who also set up Dahoud's equalizer, produced a performance-especially in the first half-which showcased his remarkable strength, hold-up play and pace as well as his clinical finishing.

Streak snapped

It was all too much for a Sevilla side which had come into the tie with high hopes, having only been beaten by La Liga leader Atletico Madrid in its previous 19 outings.

Lopetegui's team had won its previous nine matches and kept seven straight clean sheets before the arrival of Haaland.

"This was one of our best performances of the season," Dortmund coach Edin Terzic, who replaced the sacked Lucien Favre after the group phase, told Sky.

"We are pleased with the result and proud to have beaten such a team."

Sevilla has won the Europa League or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup, an incredible six times since 2005, but only once got past the last 16 of the Champions League, when it beat Manchester United in 2018 before losing to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals.

The quality of Haaland was the difference on Wednesday as Dortmund, having sunk to sixth in the Bundesliga on a poor run of form, came to life on its return to the Champions League.

"We had a good plan. Edin has been good and I've been talking a lot with him. He said today would be my game and that I would get my chances and I did, so it was an important win," Haaland told DAZN.

"It was not good to let in two goals, but it is good to score three away goals and take them with us."

Yet the game had started well for Sevilla, with Spain international Suso opening the scoring in the seventh minute after his shot deflected in off Mats Hummels.

Dortmund drew level in the 19th minute when Haaland showed terrific strength to hold up the ball on the right before coming infield and feeding Dahoud, who worked his way into position to fire a superb shot high into net from just outside the area.

It was the first goal Sevilla, which is fourth in the La Liga standings, had conceded in more than 12 hours of action. Eight minutes later they conceded again.

Haaland dropped deep, collecting possession near the halfway line, and then turned and charged toward goal before finding England international Jadon Sancho on the edge of the box and then continuing his run to place the return ball past goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

The Norwegian struck again two minutes before halftime, slotting home with a first-time strike after Marco Reus had stolen the ball from the feet of Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez before bearing down on goal.

However, Sevilla dominated the second half as Dortmund sat back, and the host netted a potentially crucial second goal six minutes from the end.

Oscar Rodriguez's high, hanging freekick was turned into the net by De Jong, giving Sevilla hope for the second leg.

Dortmund traveled to Spain having won only one of its last six German league matches. It had lost its last four away matches in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"One game isn't enough to make everything from recent weeks right," said Reus, whose side trails Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich by 16 points. "We took an important step tonight and need to aim to do exactly the same if not more in the derby (against Schalke) this weekend."


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