Jadon Sancho helped put the finishing touches on a marvelous performance for Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, coming off the bench to score his team’s third goal in an impressive 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid.
Having just about outplayed Atletico for long periods, Dortmund obliterated them in the final stages, as substitutes Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro smashed in three goals in the last 20 minutes.
The win sees Dortmund go top of Group A and Sancho lift his goal tally this season to three. If there had been any doubt that Dortmund are a team to be feared this season, it is now gone.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Borussia Dortmund: Burki 6; Piszczek 8, Diallo 9, Zagadou 7, Hakimi 7; Witsel 7, Delaney 5 (Dahoud 35, 6), Pulisic 7 (Sancho 79, 7), Bruun Larsen 6 (Guerreiro 63, 8); Reus 7, Gotze 5
Subs not used: Philipp, Weigl, Hitz, Toprak
Goals: Witsel 38, Guerreiro 73, 89, Sancho 84
Booked: Diallo, Zagadou
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 6; Juanfran 6, Godin 5, Hernandez 5, Luis 6; Koke 6, Thomas 5 (Rodri 46, 6), Saul 7 (Correa 70, 6), Lemar 6; Costa 7, Griezmann 6
Subs not used: Adan, Arias, Kalinic, Savic, Vitolo
Booked: Thomas, Lemar, Luis, Costa, Correa
They are a side are in an exhilarating fifth gear – they had scored 22 goals in their previous five matches. Yet Marco Reus had predicted that this game would be a test of their maturity and, true enough, they veered between excellence and inexperience in the first half an hour.
Fifteen minutes in, Abdou Diallo slipped in possession, recovered just before Diego Costa could reach him to steal the ball and, in a moment of brilliance, turned Thomas Lemar inside out with an audacious turn. A minute later, the young Dortmund defender found himself the wrong side of Costa and had to haul him back at the expense of a booking.
Atletico are an ever lurking danger, particularly for teams who push forward, yet Diego Simeone’s side looked increasingly blunted by a well-drilled Dortmund defence. Diallo recovered well from his early slip, while veteran Lukasz Piszczek was impeccable at right-back. The Spanish side’s only chance to speak of before the break came from Antoine Griezmann, and was a speculative half-volley into the side netting
The fireworks were at the other end. Dortmund sliced their way down the wings, forcing chances for Christian Pulisic and Axel Witsel. They were duly rewarded on 33 minutes, when Witsel’s hopeful punt from the edge of the area took a clunking deflection off Lucas Hernandez and bobbled past a stranded Oblak.
Slightly bowled over by Dortmund in the first half, Atletico came out fighting, perhaps with the fear of Simeone in their bellies. Costa loitered dangerously on the left, while Saul Niguez sent Roman Burki scrambling with a vicious low shot minutes after half time. His next effort was even better and left Burki a mere spectator, the ball dipping viciously before it struck the crossbar.
Having settled in for a long hard scrap, Dortmund recovered their spark after the hour mark. Marco Reus would have doubled the lead had he not been tackled in front of goal by his own team-mate Achraf Hakimi who, on loan from Real Madrid, was perhaps a little too keen to make his mark against his old rivals.
The second goal, when it did come, was Dortmund at their slick best. An incisive, one-touch move set Hakimi free down the left, and this time he made no mistake. The Moroccan cut the ball back sharply into the path of Raphael Guerreiro, who swept it past Oblak.
Hakimi’s atonement was complete six minutes from time, when he broke free on the counter-attack and found himself one-on-one with Oblak. This time, he was unselfish, squaring the ball to Sancho, who slotted it home with his usual delicate touch.
The fans, punch-drunk on this win, shouted Sancho’s name with more than their usual vigour. They were already ole-ing their teams passes when Guerreiro added the fourth. It was a night to remember for Dortmund.