Borussia Dortmund have smashed Real Madrid 4-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal, taking a giant stride towards the final at Wembley. Robert Lewandowski hit four. An all-German final seems plausible.
The headlines might have swirled around Mario Götze, with his move to Bayern Munich now public knowledge, but it was Polish striker Robert Lewandowski who banged in four close-range shots to propel Borussia Dortmund past Real Madrid.
The win comes a day after Bayern Munich outclassed their Spanish opponents Barcelona 4-0, putting both sides in a commanding position to reach the final at London’s Wembley Stadium next month.
After a tentative start to the game, Dortmund's first major chance came straight out of coach Jürgen Klopp's playbook. Sven Bender put in a crunching midfield tackle, before Marco Reus picked the ball up and ran headlong at the Real Madrid defense. His low shot forced Diego Lopez into one of several superlative saves on the night.
The rebound wouldn't sit for Robert Lewandowski but his opening goal was not far away. Seconds later, with less than eight minutes on the clock, the departing Götze whipped a ball in from the left and Lewandowski athletically prodded the inswinger into the net.
Jürgen Klopp's fist-pumping celebration showed a coach releasing some of the frustrations of having to face the public barely 24 hours prior to the match with news of Götze's transfer, a move that was effectively a done deal on April 11.
Real fought back into the game, however, winning a string of dangerous set pieces in the opening period. Ronaldo forced Dortmund goalie Roman Weidenfeller into a crucial diving save with one of his trademark jackhammer strikes from distance.
Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski nearly put Dortmund two ahead when he broke free down the right. But the unlikely figure of striker Gonzalo Higuain tracked the Pole all the way to the six-yard box and made a splendid last-ditch tackle.
Moments before the break, Mats Hummels twice failed to get a ball under control and conceded possession to Higuain in his more natural position up front. The Argentine negated Weidenfeller with a ball across the Dortmund goal, creating a tap-in for Ronaldo.
The goal followed seconds after Dortmund sought a penalty when Marco Reus went down in the box; replays demonstrated contact on Reus' arm, but only of the most minuscule variety.
Transformed after the break
Dortmund raced out of the blocks in the second half, immediately swamping Real.
Within five minutes, Lewandowski doubled his money. With one touch, he executed his trademark turn in the area to face goal and finished low. Real's central defense was all at sea, appealing for offside while nowhere near Dortmund's danger man.
On 55 minutes, Lewandowski completed his hat trick with the pick of the bunch. Again receiving with his back to goal, the striker this time took two deft touches to turn his marker inside out before powering the ball into the roof of Diego Lopez's net.
As Real floundered for a second-half foothold, Luka Modric provided at least a hopeful distance shot but couldn't trouble Weidenfeller.
The move of the match went to Ilkay Gündogan, who capped a fine dribble with a rocket of a left-footed shot from distance, saved in style.
After 66 minutes, Marco Reus was awarded a penalty when Xabi Alonso pulled him back in the box. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lewandowski stepped up and rifled it high and just to the right of center, sending the keeper the wrong way.
The red-hot forward - another player loudly linked with a move away from Dortmund - nearly found a fifth from distance late in the game, but Diego Lopez again saved Madrid's bacon at full stretch.
It was a miserable evening for Real's German stars Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil. Playmaker Özil's "high" point was a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct, when he appealed for a Dortmund player to receive a yellow card.
In at least a potential further blow to the Madrid side, now with a second-leg mountain to climb, German mass-circulation daily Bild reported during the semifinal itself that it was "almost certain" that coach Jose Mourinho would be returning to one of his old clubs, Chelsea, next season.