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Dortmund-Monaco Escalates Into 3-2 Barn Burner Ft. Mbappe and Pulisic

Borussia Dortmund vs. AS Monaco promised goals and incredible football from 18-year-olds. It delivered on both accounts.

AS Monaco scored three vital away goals against Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion, but you get the feeling that this tie favors whichever team is forced into having the attacking onus. The second leg in Monaco promises more of the same, and this time it’ll be Dortmund needing to force the issue.

Thomas Tuchel opted for a more conservative approach to start the match, playing Sven Bender, Sokratis and Lukasz Piszcezek in the back and opting for Marcel Schmelzer and Matthias Ginter as wing backs.

Ginter’s place on the right meant that Christian Pulisic started on the bench for Dortmund, which wasn’t a good decision. 

The match started out at a pace that foretold nothing of what was to come, but Monaco were given an early gift after the referee pointed to the spot after a coming together between Kylian Mbappe and Socrates.

It was a soft penalty, but Fabinho rolled his spot kick well wide of the post. Only minutes later, Monaco took the lead with another contentious decision. Monaco broke with pace and Thomas Lemar advanced into a dangerous area on the left-hand side.

He could’ve gone on his own, but he elected to square the ball across the face of goal and it deflected in off Mbappe. The French sensation was in an offside position, but the linesman kept his flag down and Monaco took an early lead.

Dortmund had a good opportunity to equalize but Shinji Kagawa pulled a shot wide with the goal begging. That miss was immediately punished at the other end after Bender thumped a header into his own net with Falcao lurking. Bender acted like he'd been pushed or fouled somehow, because he's a comic.

The referee’s whistle for half was a relief for Dortmund, and Tuchel immediately went about changing his side by putting on Pulisic and Nuri Sahin for Bender and Schmelzer.

The substitutions completely changed Dortmund’s approach, and a dominate opening 10 minutes of play eventually led to a goal from Ousmane Dembele. 

An acrobatic backheel flick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was steered into Kagawa’s path and he squared for Dembele to tap in. 

If another goal was coming, it looked like it’d be Dortmund’s. Pulisic was a constant threat on the wing, beating his marker wide or drifting inside to control Dortmund’s attacks from the middle of the park. 

However, in the 79th minute, Piszczek’s horrible pass to Sokratis in Dortmund’s own half was seized upon by Mbappe. He sprinted in on Dortmund’s goal before assessing his options and curling an unstoppable drive into the corner. It was Mbappe’s fourth goal in three Champions League knockout round matches this season. He’s 18 years old.

Mbappe appeared to have created an insurmountable lead for Monaco with his late dagger, but Kagawa pulled one back in the 84th. Pulisic provided the cross, but Kagawa controlled it brilliantly, cut inside a challenge and placed it beyond the goalkeeper.

Once again, Monaco will be the scene for another knockout round shootout.