by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (May 25th 2013)
Robben Breaks Dortmund Hearts
After missing several highly presentable chances Bayern München’s Dutch international Arjen Robben took advantage of hesitation in Borussia Dortmund’s defence to wrong-foot goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. Robben’s winner came after 89 minutes after a touch from Franck Ribéry was not dealt with by Dortmund’s defence allowing Robben to wend his way towards goal.
“It was a sense of ‘finally,’” Robben said. “Tonight I scored the goal but it’s credit to the whole team. I’m really proud to be part of this team. I cannot describe what was going through your mind; it’s too difficult. First you get the assist for Mandžu and then score your own, it’s a dream come true.”
Robben was presented with his Man of the Match award by Sir Alex Ferguson, but it could have been vastly different. Robben, with shades of a year ago missed chances, finding Weidenfeller as formidable an obstacle as Dortmund had found Manuel Neuer during an opening quarter where the outgoing German champions were on top.
“In the last few weeks I have been very aware of Arjen,” departing coach Jupp Heynckes said. “I’m particularly pleased for Arjen, because last year we were all tragic figures. He had a couple of opportunities.”
Bayern were indebted to their German international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for keeping them in the match in the first half. Ribéry was involved in both of Bayern’s goals, but he was extremely fortunate to have been on the pitch. With Dortmund bossing the opening half hour Dortmund’s talisman Robert Lewandowski and Ribéry tussled.
Ribéry elbowed the Pole who fell, but there was no card from referee Nicola Rizzoll. Ribéry was very fortunate involved in both Bayern goals. He could easily have been sent off, deserving a least a yellow. Within 5 minutes of that incident Danté was cautioned for a foul on Lewandowski, which should have had dire consequences later, but didn’t.
On the hour mark Ribéry exchanged passes with Robben. The Dutch winger made an easy goal for Croatian international Mario Mandžukić by squaring it for the Croatian. Had Ribéry passed to his right to Mandžukić instead of Robben the goal would not have stood as the Croatian had been offside, but after Robben’s touches Mandžukić was onside and the goal stood. And arguably Ribéry was fortunate to be on the pitch to influence events.
Five minutes later a moment of madness by Dante was punished with a penalty kick, but not a second yellow card. Dante kicked Marco Reus in the midriff. Astonishingly, there was no second card. “When I saw it in the game I thought you can give the second yellow card (Dante),” Jürgen Klopp said. “When I saw it on television I thought you had to give it.”
Lewandowski also had a spectacular goal disallowed by the referee for handball. The replays confirmed the Polish striker’s protestations that he had used his chest to control it rather than arm. Ribéry also got the assist for Robben’s goal after receiving a booking fifteen minutes earlier for an altercation with Kevin Grosskreutz who was also cautioned. If Ribéry had even seen a yellow card, for his offence on Lewandowski midway through the first half he would not have been on the pitch to assist Robben.
Dortmund had the best of the first half – a classic tale of statistics not telling the full story as Bayern shaded possession. In the opening half hour Polish captain Jakub Błaszczykowski had two good chances. The first he pulled wide of the post, the second required Manuel Neuer to thwart with his legs to his left. A minute earlier Neuer had to tip Lewandowski’s effort over the bar.
Meanwhile, Marco Reus pulled Dortmund’s strings, setting up Błaszczykowski’s second effort before unleashing a fine shot of his own that Neuer dealt with perhaps a little more theatrically than necessary. Lewandowski failed to convert the chance Reus created for him. Dortmund’s pressure failed to tell and Bayern clawed their way into the match.
Robben had the first of his chances, but found Weidenfeller a formidable barrier. The Dutchman seemed set to have another of those days. The corner came and went. As the first half drew to a close Robben almost benefited from fortuitous deflections off Mats Hummels that ricocheted to Robben, but Weidenfeller proved that his face was also an effective barrier to Robben.
It seemed infectious. Thomas Müller had a solid match for Bayern. A few minutes after Dortmund’s equaliser he rounded Weidenfeller and shot into an empty net – a certain goal? Müller certainly thought so, but even with Robben loitering for scraps Neven Subotić pulled of one of the defensive clearances of this or any other season. Sliding back he hooked the ball off the line and away from Robben. Klopp was ecstatic.
Lewandowski’s magnificent effort being disallowed wrongly frustrated the Polish forward and the unacceptable side of his game emerged. With Jérôme Boateng on the deck Lewandowski studded him just above the ankle. It deserved a straight red card followed by a suitable ban. With extra time beckoning Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had a quiet match by his standards unleashed a shot from the edge of the area. Weidenfeller was equal to it. Shortly afterwards Robben broke Dortmund’s hearts.
Nevertheless, Klopp refused to make excuses. Congratulating Bayern, he refused to claim that the sending off that never happened would have made a difference. “I’m not sure if 11 against ten we would win [but] maybe that was the best match against Bayern München this season.”
Ilkay Gündoğan dispatched the penalty seven minutes after Mandžukić had given Bayern the lead. The match remained in the balance, but Bayern looked the more likely in the second half as Dortmund ran out of steam. Klopp sounded a positive note in defeat. “We will come back,” he said. “We try to come back to another final. We have to go further on. We have to buy some players. In two years there’s Berlin.”
The Final Word
“I have to pay a compliment to Dortmund.” Heynckes said. “Borussia Dortmund is uncomfortable to play against because it’s a German derby. In the first stage they played an excellent match. We took command of the game. Both teams played excellently. In second half we deserved to win.”
Heynckes summed up the match. “It was a very intensive match for both teams,” he said. “They went for it. They both fought for it. This year they had a top class Champion’s League.” He retires as coach on Sunday. His last match in charge of Bayern will be the Pokal [the German Cup] against VfB Stuttgart. If Bayern win that match it will be their first treble – a fitting end to a glorious life in football, but Heynckes could not resist cranking up the pressure on Pep Guardiola. “My successor will be able to take over a perfectly functioning team,” Heynckes said.