Irish Daily Mail


City Quadruple dream survives an early scare from Bellingham


THIS was a landmark night for young English talent, a big evening of European football illuminate­d by Jude Bellingham of Stourbridg­e and Phil Foden of Stockport.

In the end, though, it was an occasion that proved to be an even more important rite of passage for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Into the last four of the Champions League for the first time under their Spanish coach, City deserved this victory.

Behind early in this second leg, Guardiola’s players could have panicked. They have stumbled at this stage before. But on this occasion they plotted their way back and proved to be the better team. It is Paris Saint-Germain next and Guardiola’s players need not fear them.

This was a fine game, just as absorbing as the first leg also won 2-1 by City. Bellingham, just 17, starred for Dortmund in Manchester and scored a wonderful goal for the German team here.

Only 15 minutes had passed when he scored high from 16 yards and for a while it seemed as though it may be the definitive moment.

But City are resilient and brave. After Riyad Mahrez had converted a second-half penalty awarded for handball against Emre Can, Foden placed his own mark on the night with a rasping 75th-minute drive that appeared to bring Guardiola almost to tears on the touchline.

England manager Gareth Southgate will benefit from this night. Bellingham and Foden will join his squad for the European Championsh­ips this summer as players of burgeoning repute and confidence. Foden, only 20, may have played in a Champions League final by then.

Despite City’s late winner in the first leg, it always felt as though the away goal secured for Dortmund by Marco Reus just a few minutes earlier might be significan­t. That was certainly how it felt when Bellingham scored his first Champions League goal. It was a superb goal that placed the tie on a knife edge.

The pattern of the play during the first half was not dissimilar to what we witnessed in Manchester. City were superior in terms of possession and territory but Dortmund carried real threat on the counter-attack.

City were warned early of Dortmund’s enduring potency. Conceding possession carelessly 30 yards from their own goal, Mahmoud Dahoud’s shot from the edge of the area was powerful enough to have beaten Ederson had it not been delivered straight into the goalkeeper’s midriff.

Soon, City were behind, having not yet created a meaningful chance of their own. Erling Haaland

was involved as he span down the inside left channel to collect a ball from deep. City defender John Stones was off balance but recovered enough to force Haaland to lay the ball off to the inside.

The trouble was only just arriving, however, and when a ricochet delivered the ball into the path of Bellingham, a stride or two inside the area, he moved it neatly on to his right foot and placed a rising shot to Ederson’s left into the top corner of the goal.

It was a huge moment and one that confirmed what many who watched the first game had realised, namely that Dortmund’s position of fifth in the Bundesliga was not indicative of declining standards. A superb goal, it left

City staring at calamity in this competitio­n once again.

Briefly they looked rattled. An overlap from Reus forced Kyle Walker to concede a corner and from the kick, Manuel Akanji, was allowed to head unmarked towards goal. Once again Ederson saved.

There was some desperatio­n about a long shot over from Walker but in the 25th minute, Kevin de Bruyne set a captain’s example, stealing the ball from a Dortmund defender and crashing it against the bar. Bernardo Silva followed up and headed wide.

For a spell thereafter, City’s intensity increased. Their attacks had more sharpness and crispness. Mahrez crossed deep to Foden just after the half hour and when the ball was returned to him, prodded it towards goal.

The shot beat goalkeeper Marwin Hitz but was cleared almost from the goalline by a figure in yellow. The hero? Remarkably it was Bellingham who celebrated with a fist pump.

The tide had turned, though.

City’s football at the start of the second half was even more smothering and eventually Dortmund’s resistance gave way.

Can, the former Liverpool player, did not have an impressive first leg. His error conceded possession in the build-up to City’s first goal and he then was pulled up for an apparent foul in the penalty area, a decision overturned on the advice of VAR.

Here, on his own turf, he was not as lucky. Once again the VAR officials were involved and it appeared as though the German inadverten­tly headed the ball against his own arm, rather than handled it directly. Neverthele­ss, the decision stood nd Mahrez swept in a very well taken penalty.

Ahead once again in the tie, City didn’t need another goal to go through but you would not have known that from their play.

Dortmund endeavoure­d to rally. There was no doubting their spirit. Dahoud had a shot blocked on the turn by Rodri while Mats Hummels headed a Reus free-kick on to the roof of the net. But the home team’s intensity levels had dropped noticeably as the game entered its final 20 minutes.

Without a home crowd to raise them, Dortmund were beginning to flag and De Bruyne almost buried them with a low shot before Foden struck venomously from the edge of the area.

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 ?? AFP ?? Blue is the colour: City players and manager Pep Guardiola embrace after Phil Foden’s superb winner against Dortmund
AFP Blue is the colour: City players and manager Pep Guardiola embrace after Phil Foden’s superb winner against Dortmund

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