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Dortmund's advance not without drama

Updated: 2014-03-21 08:46
By Agence France-Presse in Dortmund, Germany ( China Daily)

Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said an injury to defender Marcel Schmelzer and the suspension of striker Robert Lewandowski took the shine off the club's advancement to the Champions League's quarterfinals.

Last season's finalist reached the quarterfinals despite losing 2-1 at home to Zenit St. Petersburg in Wednesday's last-16, second-leg clash - its 4-2 first-leg victory allowing the German side to claim a 5-4 aggregate win.

Brazil star Hulk gave Zenit an early lead with a superb strike before Dortmund drew level from a header by captain Sebastian Kehl just before the break.

Venezuela striker Jose Rondon, who joined Zenit in January from Russian rival Rubin Kazan, came off the bench to head home the second-half winner.

The defeat had repercussions for Klopp as leftback Schmelzer limped out with a suspected hip injury 15 minutes before the final whistle.

Star striker Lewandowski was booked in the 19th minute for a hand ball, his third yellow of the tournament, and is suspended for the first quarterfinal leg.

"I have to be careful in regards to what I say about referees, but I wouldn't have given it," Klopp said when asked about Lewandowski's booking.

"There are worse things in life. What worries me more is the injury to Marcel Schmelzer.

"He is in a lot of pain in the hip area. We don't know yet exactly what the injury is, but it happened in a collision with Hulk and it really doesn't look good."

Schmelzer's injury could be a further blow to Dortmund, which already has centerback Neven Subotic and winger Jakub Blaszczykowski out with long-term knee injuries while Germany defender Mats Hummels has only just returned from an ankle injury.

Despite a below-par performance, Klopp was happy to see Dortmund in the quarterfinals for the second year running.

"I am totally happy that we are through; we had respect for Zenit for their physically strong and talented side," said Klopp, who will learn his team's quarterfinal opponent on Friday.

"Anyone who works in football knows that Zenit isn't a pushover, and the creme de la creme of European football now awaits us in the quarterfinals."

Wednesday's result was Dortmund's third Champions League defeat of the season after losing at Napoli and at home to Arsenal in the group stages.

Dortmund's fans voiced their discontent after the final whistle, but Kehl was equally unimpressed with their response.

"We certainly didn't play our best game, but I can't understand the atmosphere in the stadium," said the 34-year-old.

"We have reached the quarterfinals, that has some worth. We are very happy going through, as we have had a lot of injuries this season.

"We never complained about it, but it does cost a lot of energy. Despite all this, we deserve to be among the best eight teams in Europe."

Zenit will unveil ex-Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas as its new manager on Thursday.

The Russians must have impressed their new manager, having produced a spirited display in taking the game to Dortmund.

"It was a huge task for us to come here and score three goals and unfortunately we didn't make it," said Zenit's caretaker coach, Sergei Semak.

"I have to congratulate my team on a good performance. The boys did the best they could do, but we were in against a very good squad."

 Dortmund's advance not without drama

Zenit St. Petersburg's Tomas Hubocan split his forehead after colliding with Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski (not pictured) during their Champions League last-16, second-leg match in Dortmund on Wednesday. Ina Fassbender / Reuters

(China Daily 03/21/2014 page24)