Borussia Dortmund secured their place in the Champions League final on Tuesday night despite losing 2-0 to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu stadium. They successfully survived a last-minute scare courtesy of Sergio Ramos.
As Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp had predicted, Real Madrid (4-1 down after their trip to Dortmund in the first leg) came out of the blocks at a scorching pace - despite the cool temperatures in Madrid - and they could easily have been back in the tie after 15 minutes.
Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mesut Özil were all thwarted by an immense performance from goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, who gave the Germans the calm they needed in a thundering Bernabeu stadium.
At the other end, Robert Lewandowski was kept in check more successfully than last week (when he scored four times), particularly by Sergio Ramos. Though sometimes the Spaniard's tackles were a little on the heavy side, and the tension between them escalated visibly throughout the game.
Meanwhile, Dortmund's counter-attacking sting was dealt a significant blow in the 13th minute, when Mario Götze's evening came to premature end. The star attacker, leaving for Bayern Munich in the summer, pulled a hamstring and looked somewhat distraught as he was substituted for Kevin Grosskreutz.
Afterwards Klopp said that Götze had suffered a torn muscle, potentially putting him out of the final.
But after they'd ridden out the early storm, the Germans slowly found their way back into the game and began to take control, successfully keeping up a constant threat at the other end, though failing to carve out a clear chance.
Second half scare
Madrid came out swinging in the second half again, winning a string of corners in the first couple of minutes, but the Dortmund defenders were equal to the threat. In particular central defender Mats Hummels, whose mistake in the first leg had gifted Ronaldo an away goal, had a fantastic game.
As the game progressed, Dortmund should have taken the lead twice. Once when a slick counterattack through Marco Reus set Lewandowski free, only for the lanky Pole to rattle the underside of the crossbar. Then, after another break, Ilkay Gündogan found himself alone in front of Real keeper Diego Lopez and managed to slap it against him when it looked easier to score.
Real Madrid looked toothless in front of goal throughout the second half, until the 82nd minute, when Benzema took the lead after a slick move up the right. That immediately sparked a late surge, and Sergio Ramos, a defender whose earlier caution meant he would have been suspended for the final, popped up following a corner and slammed the ball into the roof of the net in the 88th minute.
That raised fears of a repeat of Dortmund's amazing double-goal escape against Malaga in the quarter final. But they held on, setting up what is likely to be a blockbusting all-German final in London.