The tradition of away teams dominating the knockout stage continues as Borussia Dortmund had a very easy time beating Zenit St. Petersburg in a match that wasn’t even that close, and giving them almost a definite spot in the quarterfinals.
The match was close to over after five minutes. A terrible Zenit defense that kept turning the ball over under the slightest of midfield pressures, and by the time five minutes have passed Dortmund were up by two goals. The first was scored by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and a minute later Marco Reus got on the scoreboard. Zenit looked confused and pretty much like a team that’s been through a long winter break.
Dortmund? Their defense is always suspect, but the excellent pressure from Reus, Mkhitaryan, Sebastian Kehl and Nuri Sahin made sure that their patched up back four won’t be tested and threatened too much, as Zenit were counting themselves lucky for conceding only two goals in the first half.
Out of nowhere in the second half Oleg Shatov made the most of a big mix up in the Dortmund box after misses from Samuel Rondon and Hulk, although was offside at the beginning of the play to give Zenit some hope. On par with their defending throughout the match, Robert Lewandowski needed only four minutes to give Dortmund a two goal lead again, finding himself in a comfortable one on one situation he couldn’t miss from.
Zenit didn’t create any dangerous chances and for most of the match barely managed to have any possession in Dortmund’s half. However, a terrible decision by referee William Collum gave Zenit a penalty kick in the 69th minute, giving Hulk the opportunity to make a match of it once more.
But, as you might expect, Dortmund were once again on the attack, as Lewandowski scored for the second time (his sixth of the season in the Champions League) after another embarrassing piece of defending from the home side.
With all of their problems this season, Dortmund are still a level or two better than Zenit, who made it into the next stage with 6 points from their group matches. Combine that with a two month hiatus that Russian and Ukrainian teams always have to go through, and it’s far less than surprising to see Dortmund win so easily in Russia.