Aubameyang inspires Dortmund comeback against Benfica

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit a hat-trick as Dortmund overturned their 1-0 first-leg defeat in impressive style to book a place in next Friday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw.

Aubameyang endured a torrid night in Lisbon three weeks ago, missing a penalty and exiting early as Benfica snatched victory, but here he found redemption. He didn’t have long to wait either, drawing this round of 16 tie level inside four minutes when he nodded in Christian Pulišić’s flick-on.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund)

Dortmund celebrate after their dream start©AFP/Getty Images

Benfica rallied and had chances to equalise but all too often their efforts attracted only Roman Bürki’s magnetic arms. The one time the keeper was beaten, the back of Łukasz Piszczek’s head intervened to divert Franco Cervi’s shot to safety.

Moments later Pulišić put the hosts in front on aggregate with a lovely dinked finish and two minutes later Aubameyang’s second of the night all but settled matters. The Gabon striker wasn’t done, though, tapping in late on to claim the match ball. What a difference three weeks makes!

Key player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Having missed a penalty and two golden opportunities in Lisbon, Aubameyang must have felt he owed his team going into the return. The sight of him wheeling away in glee after netting a fourth-minute opener was indicative of his relief, while further predatory close-range finishes brought a second-leg hat-trick that confirmed the forward’s class on European club football’s grandest stage.

A special night for a special goal
Pulišić got the all-important second goal with a clever dink over Ederson and there really was no other way the 18-year-old American could have finished that move. He is already mature beyond his years and while this was his first UEFA Champions League goal, it’s unlikely to be the last.

Dortmund seize their chance
Benfica falling behind so early will have irked coach Rui Vitória but the Eagles’ first-half response – when they suffocated and frustrated their opponents for large parts – brought great promise ahead of the restart. The game opening up did the visitors few favours, however, and when Benfica lost shape while going in search of a goal, Dortmund pounced to devastating effect.  

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund)

The hosts celebrate after clinching victory©AFP/Getty Images

Expert opinion
Steffen Potter, Dortmund reporter (@UEFAcomSteffenP)
The two legs at least had something in common: the away sides wasted some glorious chances for an away goal – a goal that could well have changed everything. The difference was that Dortmund made more of their home match and, considering the number of openings they created over 180 minutes, deservedly went through. The quarter-finals await, and Marco Reus will hopefully be back for those.

Paul Bryan, Benfica reporter (@UEFAcomPaulB)
Benfica reached the quarters before being ousted by Bayern last season. This time the Portuguese champions’ tournament has concluded a round earlier, again at the hands of German opposition. The visitors knew they were fortunate to take a narrow lead to Dortmund, and when the dust settles they may acknowledge that they were eliminated by a better team.

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