In Wednesday's Champions League action, it was another poor night for the home teams. Manchester United drew 1-1 with Real Madrid, while Borussia Dortmund versus Shakhtar Donetsk ended 2-2.
Dortmund came into the first leg of their round of 16 match against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk on the back of a shock 4-1 home defeat to Hamburg in the Bundesliga. Prodigal son Nuri Sahin was left on the bench - with Sven Bender and Sebastian Kehl making up Borussia's defensive midfield. Filipe Santana was allowed to retain his spot in central defense.
The match was preceded by a moment of silence after a plane accident claimed the lives of fans from Odessa on their way to the match. The plane reportedly overshot the runway at Donetsk airport, killing at least five people.
After play got underway, Dortmund started brightly and nearly grabbed an early lead when Mats Hummels rattled the crossbar in minute 17. But Santana conceded an unnecessary free kick just outside the Dortmund area a quarter-of-an-hour later, and Darijo Srna thumped the ball in to put the hosts ahead.
Shakhtar pressed, but against the run of play Robert Lewandowski got the equalizer in minute 41, after two of the home defenders fell over in front of their own goal. It was a scene typical of a night when both back fours seemed occasionally disoriented.
In fact Dortmund were lucky to go into the dressing rooms even with the hosts after some chaos in their penalty area right before the break.
Lapse in concentration
Dortmund have been prone to conceding silly goals as of late, and they paid for it in minute 68. Shakhtar hoofed the ball upfield, and although it was in the air for what felt like a week, Hummels completely lost the plot. Douglas Costa said thank you and fired his shot past Roman Weidenfeller.
Five minutes later, Lewandowski again had a chance to level things, but he pulled his shot just wide. Jürgen Klopp was forced to make defensive substitutions in an attempt to shore up Borussia at the back.
But five minutes from time, Hummels made good on his early mistake. The big defender was left unmarked in the Donetsk box, and he headed home Dortmund's second goal.
“If you look at the whole match, a draw is almost too little,” said Hummels after the match. “But it's very important that we got the equalizer in the end because it means that a goalless draw in the reverse fixture will be enough to progress.”
A 1-1 draw would also suffice, so Dortmund take home an excellent chance of qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Draw in Madrid
Wednesday's other Champions League match featured two giants of European football, Real Madrid and Manchester United, slugging it out at the Bernabeu. The hosts took the early initiative, and ManU were lucky not to concede within the first ten minutes.
But Danny Wellbeck headed in a Wayne Rooney corner on the 20-minute mark to give the visitors the lead.
The hosts looked unimpressed. Germany's Mesut Özil proved particularly difficult for the Red Devils to contain, and ten minutes later, the score was level after a well-placed header by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Although Real peppered the Manchester goal in the second half, keeper David de Gea had an absolute blinder, and the match ended 1-1. Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was not amused.
The return legs of both fixtures will be played on March 5.