For the second time in two nights a Spanish giant was felled in Germany. All of the damage at the Westfalenstadion was done by Robert Lewandowski, who gave a performance of astonishing dominance, scoring all four of Borussia Dortmund's goals in a 4-1 win over Real Madrid.
Maybe this is the proof that balance of power in European football has moved from Spain to Germany, coming the day after Bayern Munich routed Barcelona 4-0. The first- and second-placed sides of the Bundesliga have scored eight goals past their Spanish counterparts this week, and the Champions League final next month will surely be between Bayern and Dortmund, the two best teams in Germany and quite possibly in Europe. This defeat was nearly as emphatic as Tuesday night's and just as one-sided.
Or maybe this was just one very good player performing at his best, a rare evening when form, confidence, fortune and momentum combine to make something special. This was an all-time great striker's performance in the European Cup, as Lewandowski scored three goals of very impressive awareness, touch and technique before converting a penalty that was rather impressive itself.
It was meant to be about Mario Götze, the little creative midfielder leaving Dortmund for Bayern Munich this summer. But, after a few whistles before kick-off, it soon became apparent that this was a match far too important for hurt feelings. Götze, who played well and set up the first goal, was cheered from then on.
But this, undeniably, was Lewandowski's night. The lanky 24-year-old from Warsaw may well follow Götze to Munich this summer, and is popular in England, too. But even if he does go, he will leave as a Dortmund legend after this special night. And his time here is not done yet. He has already, like Götze, delivered two leagues and one cup to Dortmund, and the greatest prize might yet be theirs one month from now.
Whatever the lessons, this was another night of drama, quality and noise, another night when a Spanish side of remarkable individual quality somehow failed to create almost anything of value, while being ripped apart by the pace and ruthlessness of their German hosts.
It only took eight minutes for Dortmund's first goal, and it could have come sooner than that. Marco Reus charged forward on the break and drew a save from Diego Lopez which did not quite fall to Lewandowski.That ought to have been warning, but seemingly it was not, and the goal came two minutes later. Götze, playing like a man keen to prove his continued commitment, found space on the left and curled over a perfect cross. Lewandowski knew what to do before anyone else, evaded Pepe and scored at the far post.
Dortmund had Madrid well pushed back, with Ilkay Gündogan far more influential in midfield than Xabi Alonso or Luka Modric, brought in as a third midfielder for Angel Di Maria to add control, but doing nothing of the sort. The supply lines to Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo were well-blocked and Madrid created almost as little as Barcelona did on Tuesday night.
The one goal they scored, just before the break, was itself a gift. Dortmund were distracted by an unsuccessful penalty appeal after Reus was brought down by Raphaël Varane, and Mats Hummels hit a weak backpass which Gonzalo Higuain intercepted, and his cross to Ronaldo was simple to convert. That was Madrid's only real attack of the evening.
Dortmund must have been devastated to waste all their good first-half work but it was worthwhile for the inspiration it gave them early in the second half. Lewandowski completed his hat-trick within 10 minutes of the restart and then exceeded it 11 minutes later.
Five minutes in, an attacking move led to Reus shooting from the edge of the box and, out of character, he skewed it. Lewandowski, again showing off his poacher's instinct, stayed onside, received the ball, span and stabbed it past Lopez. The Madrid players thought he was offside, he was confident that he was not, and Dortmund had the lead again.
How Madrid were still unaware of the quality of opponent they were facing is a mystery, but five minutes later Lewandowski was allowed to score his third. Another flowing attack ended with Marcel Schmelzer shooting, again the ball fell to Lewandowski and again his touch, turn and timing were perfect, making enough space before rifling the ball into the roof of the net.
The famous Sudtribune, witnessing the game turn straight in front of them, were escstatic and there was nearly something even better to celebrate, Gündogan skipping past two tackles and being denied by only a Lopez save from a goal of the season.
They need not have worried, the fourth came soon after. Another direct run from the electric Reus led to Alonso, almost never flappable, clumsily bringing him down. K Lewandowski stepped up and sent the penalty to the place he knows best, the roof of the net. Dortmund were 4-1 up.
Mourinho, comprehensively out-thought on the night, threw on Di Maria, Kaka and Karim Benzema for the final minutes. But all Roman Weidenfeller had to do was one block from Ronaldo with two minutes left. He will be worked harder in the Bernabeu and most probably at Wembley too.Reuse content