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Sunday , December 5 2021

City end run of failure in quarters

Real oust Liverpool, return to CL semis

DORTMUND, Germany, April 15, (AP): Pep Guardiola shared an emotional moment with goal scorer Phil Foden as Manchester City ended their run of failure in the Champions League quarterfinals , beating Borussia Dortmund 2-1 for a 4-2 aggregate win. Jude Bellingham scored to put Dortmund on course for an upset win before City hit back through a penalty by Riyad Mahrez and Foden’s goal. Guardiola reached the semifinals with City at the fifth attempt, matching the club’s best ever result under his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini in 2016.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (left), fights for the ball with Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos during a Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England. (AP)

City go on to face Paris Saint- Germain. Guardiola said he expected to be labeled “a failure” if Dortmund became the fourth club in a row to eliminate City in a Champions League quarterfinal, after Lyon last year and before that Tottenham and Liverpool. Monaco beat City in the round of 16 in 2017 in Guardiola’s first season. Guardiola added that City would celebrate with “a lot of wine tonight” before preparing to face Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday. Bellingham, Dortmund’s 17-yearold English midfielder, put the German club ahead when he scored in the 15th minute after City defender Ruben Dias blocked Mahmoud Dahoud’s shot.

That leveled the aggregate score 2-2, with Dortmund ahead on away goals. Bellingham became the secondyoungest player to score in a Champions League knockout game at 17 years, 289 days. Bojan Krkic was 72 days younger when he scored for Barcelona against Schalke in 2008. City then laid siege to the Dortmund goal, with Kevin De Bruyne hitting the crossbar. And Dortmund handed City the breakthrough early in the second half when Emre Can gave away a penalty by heading a cross onto his arm. Mahrez put City back in control when he blasted the 55th-minute spot kick into the top right, past stand-in goalkeeper Marwin Hitz. Dortmund were unhappy with the penalty call against Can, a week after Bellingham had a goal ruled out in the first leg in disputed circumstances.

Chasing another goal to force extra time, Dortmund pushed up, but could only muster an off-target header from Mats Hummels at a free kick. City took advantage of the space which opened up to pressure Dortmund. Foden, who also scored in the first leg last week, made sure of the win in the 75th with a low shot past Hitz from the edge of the box off a short corner routine. He ran straight to Guardiola on the touchline to celebrate with a hug. The loss means Dortmund could face an exodus of talented young players at the end of the season. Part of the appeal to talents like striker Erling Haaland and forward Jadon Sancho – the latter injured for this game – has been Dortmund’s consistent Champions League appearances as a way to develop their skills and show off to potential buyers.

With Dortmund sitting fifth in the Bundesliga, it’s on course for the far less appealing Europa League. Haaland played his part holding up the ball in the run-up to Bellingham’s goal, but the Norwegian was otherwise kept quiet by the City defense. He has now gone four scoreless games for Dortmund and three for Norway since his last goal on March 20. Zinedine Zidane has shown Jürgen Klopp just how to turn a season around. Zidane is leading Real Madrid into the semifinals of the Champions League. Klopp will finish the season without a trophy. A 0-0 draw at Anfield in the quarterfinals protected a 3-1 advantage from the first leg for Madrid. The record 13-time European champions are back in the semifinals – where Chelsea await – for the first time since 2018 when Zidane lifted the European Cup for a third consecutive season by beating Klopp’s Liverpool in the final. The victory in the 2018 final was Zidane’s last game before ending his first stint in charge. He was tempted back in 2019 following disappointing results, but this season looked to be unraveling just a few months ago. Trailing Atletico Madrid by 10 points in La Liga in January, the defending champions are now just a single point behind and the double is on. For Liverpool, it’s turning into a miserable season – which are now sure to end without a trophy.

It’s quite a comedown for Klopp’s side, which won the Champions League in 2019 – after losing the 2018 final to Madrid – and ended a 30-year English championship drought by winning the Premier League by an 18-point margin in 2020. Now Liverpool are struggling to even make the Champions League places, sitting three points outside the top four with seven games to go. Liverpool created chance after chance but Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane could find no way past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and a makeshift defense that stifled a front three that has endured a season of frustration. A scene of many memorable European comebacks, Anfield lacked the fans who have so often inspired Liverpool in similar situations.

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