By Enis Koylu
Borussia Dortmund’s 4-2 win over Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday in the Champions League was oddly reminiscent of the chaotic, but brilliant performances that defined their run to the final last term.
Just like last year, their defence was prone to leaking goals and, crucially, their all-star attack made the difference with Robert Lewandowski scoring two second-half goals to all but book his side's place in the next round.
|THE BIG LEWANDOWSKI
|FROM OUR LIVE COMMENTARY|
|61'||Lewandowski scrappily squeezes the ball underneath Lodygin! Piszczek squares the ball brilliantly, before the Polish striker digs the ball out from under his feet and applies the finishing touch!|
|71'||Zenit look shellshocked, as soon as they get back into the game, they concede again! It's a good finish from the Polish international, steering a low drive into the bottom left corner and beyond Lodygin|
| PLAYER RATING
|4||A fantastic display from the Poland international, as he brought other players into play, as well as hammering home two goals. A handful for Lombaerts, who will be having nightmares tonight.|
As the Polish striker approaches his final few months at Signal Iduna Park, he has the chance for redemption among the Dortmund fans before he treads the well-worn path to Bayern Munich.
The exit of Mario Gotze last year was met with shock and disgust among the Westfalenstadion faithful. An academy graduate, who just months earlier had shown no interest in leaving the club and signed a new contract, had joined the hated enemy who had just stolen German hegemony.
To compound matters, his move was confirmed on the eve of the biggest game of Dortmund’s season – a Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid - and he got injured in the return leg and missed the final against his future employers. A bitter way for a story to end.
Lewandowski has the chance to do it differently. His move, which everyone was certain of for a year, was confirmed during a lull in the season. Jurgen Klopp, who claimed he was “speechless” for days after Gotze left, said he was “perfectly fine” with the 25-year-old’s choice.
Though born in Bavaria, Gotze had been at Dortmund since he was a child; Lewandowski was a careerist who moved to the club as a stepping stone. There is less romance in his story in the Ruhr.
That’s not to say he can’t leave a hero, though. BVB’s pursuit of the Bundesliga title is dead, but they are still fighting for silverware on two fronts, and as they have shown on so many occasions, they can challenge Bayern Munich, arguably their biggest rivals, in both Europe and the DFB Pokal over 90 minutes, if not a 34-game season.
His finishing has frustrated fans over recent months, but if Tuesday’s win in Russia is anything to go by, he is getting back to his predatory best, which could be absolutely key as his team-mates begin to tire as the season wears on.
Lewandowski too seems eager to leave on a high note. Far from being ungrateful, he is aware of how Dortmund feel and shortly after his move was confirmed, wrote a note to fans speaking of his ongoing ambition at the club.
“With half a year to go, there are still some goals we want to achieve together,” his letter read. “I hope you will support me, even if some of you don’t agree with my decision! I for one will give my all for BVB!”
Performances like his one on Tuesday demonstrate that he is still fully committed to the club for the time being and is capable of making the difference in perilous situations. When Zenit twice looked like getting back in the game, twice he stepped up to restore his side’s two-goal advantage, which should be more than enough to see them into the last eight.
Dortmund fans’ affection and acceptance of Lewandowski will most likely turn to ire one they see him in the red of Bayern next term but, for the time being, he has the chance to write himself into BVB folklore. Unlike Gotze.