By Kris Voakes
Just like Tuesday, a Spanish giant was cut down to size at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday evening. But whereas a complete team performance was Bayern Munich’s key to victory over Barcelona 24 hours earlier, a one-man finishing masterclass from Robert Lewandowski saw Borussia Dortmund to a magnificent 4-1 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg.
|DORTMUND'S FOUR-GOAL POLE
|FROM OUR LIVE COMMENTARY|
|8'||DORTMUND TAKE AN EARLY LEAD! LEWANDOWSKI IS THE SCORER! The Poland international connects with a superb cross from that man Gotze from the left to divert the ball past Lopez.|
|50'||LEWANDOWSKI STRIKES AGAIN!! DORTMUND ARE BACK IN FRONT!! Madrid's defence was static there as Lewandowski received the ball with his back to goal inside the box. He quickly turned and prodded the ball past Lopez at his near post to make it 2-1.|
|55'||WHAT A HAT-TRICK FROM LEWANDOWSKI!! DORTMUND LEAD 3-1!! The Polish striker takes the ball on his left foot before dragging it away from the attention of Alonso and Pepe and hammering it into the roof of the net with his right foot.|
|66'||LEWANDOWSKI SCORES A FOURTH GOAL!! The 24-year-old smashes the spot-kick high into the back of the net to make it 4-1 to Dortmund.|
The Polish striker left the Madrid defence flailing at almost every turn as he took his big chance in front of the eyes of the world to show that he has the finishing ability at the top level that many had previously doubted he possessed. With four goals, some of them out of the very top drawer, Lewandowski made sure that his name will be on the lips of the most powerful wheelers and dealers in this summer’s transfer market, and not just the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester United. Jose Mourinho’s side were simply left begging for mercy, having been subjected to a thorough examination throughout.
The 24-year-old found the scoresheet first in only the eighth minute, converting an excellent cross from Mario Gotze with an exemplary finish past Diego Lopez. After Cristiano Ronaldo’s equaliser, Lewandowski once more put his side ahead early in the second half. With Madrid’s back four square, the Pole timed his movement to perfection to stay onside before beating Lopez with a perfect prod into the corner of the net. But he was only half done.
It was soon 3-1, with Lewandowski collecting the ball around the penalty spot, delivering a great piece of skill to send Pepe off balance and firing superbly into the back of the net. And just as Madrillenos were hoping that their side could snatch a potentially vital second away goal, the man of the moment struck a fourth from the penalty spot after Xabi Alonso was adjudged to have shoved Marco Reus in the back.
It was the first time ever that Madrid had been undone by four goals from the same player in European history, while never before in a European Cup or Champions League semi-final had one man netted more than a hat-trick. This really was a statement of brilliance on the biggest stage.
What made it perhaps more galling for Mourinho was the fact that Lewandowski’s magnificent performance came in stark contrast to the fortunes of his own strikers. While Gonzalo Higuain’s greatest contribution came with a crucial tackle in his own penalty area and Karim Benzema was only deemed worthy of 22 minutes of action such has been his season, the powerful Pole was busy ripping their team-mates apart. Oh, how the nine-time kings of Europe could have done with Lewandowski in the centre of their attack.Now their Decima dreams lie in tatters thanks to a sensational evening for the Dortmund striker, who looks a safe bet for a visit to Wembley on May 25. To defy the odds and send the Germans packing, they not only need to find three goals from somewhere but they also need to spend the next six days finding an answer to one of the best finishers in the game.
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