Dortmund advance despite defeat at home to Zenit St Petersburg
Last year's runners-up through after 5-4 aggregate victory
Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 to visitors Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday but advanced 5-4 on aggregate to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the second successive season.
Dortmund, last year’s runners-up, won 4-2 in Russia in the first leg but fell a goal behind when Hulk thundered Zenit into the lead with an unstoppable long-range effort in the 16th minute.
Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl settled the hosts’ nerves when he headed in the equaliser in the 38th minute, but the visitors retook the lead in the 72nd minute through substitute Jose Rondon’s diving header.
Dortmund held on in a scrappy finale and the 2-1 defeat was enough to send them into the last eight as the second German team along with Bayern Munich.
“Zenit had to come forward and they have such quality in attack,” Kehl said. “We did not have our best match today but we can leave here with a big smile on our face.”
Kehl said he was unhappy with the atmosphere in the stadium and questioned the reaction of fans who had come seemingly expecting a rout.
“I found this atmosphere in the stadium a bit depressing. Maybe they wanted to see a 6-1 win but that does not happen every day.
“We have had a lot of injuries this season but this result shows we are well prepared. So the season is not that bad as some make it out to be.”
In a lively start to the game, Dortmund, who had won eight of their last nine Champions League home games, came close in the fifth minute but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s header sailed narrowly wide.
Zenit, who sacked coach Luciano Spalletti after a run of one win in 12 competitive matches and will be managed by Andre Villas-Boas from Thursday, responded a minute later with an Axel Witsel shot forcing keeper Weidenfeller to make a full-stretch save.
Brazil international Hulk did better with a thundering left-foot drive from 25 metres that left Germany international Weidenfeller with no chance and gave caretaker coach Sergei Semak something to smile about.
Dortmund, missing offensive midfielder Marco Reus among other key absences, were dealt a further blow when striker Robert Lewandowski was booked for a hand ball, ruling him out through suspension from the quarter-final first leg.
It took time for the nervous hosts to recover but not before Oleg Shatov threatened Dortmund again with a low drive.
It was the Germans who scored before the break, however, with Kehl rising high above defender Domenico Criscito to head in a perfect Marcel Schmelzer cross from the left.
The goal meant Zenit needed another three to advance and the pressure showed in the second half with Dortmund controlling the pace.
Zenit struck against the run of play when Rondon silenced the home crowd in the 72nd minute but it was too little too late as the Russian side crashed out after only their second win in the competition this season.