In the nick of stoppage time

Dortmund completes turnaround by scoring twice,including a controversial winner,in injury time to beat Malaga 3-2

Written by New York Times | London | Published: April 11, 2013 1:29 am

ROB HUGHES

We used to say that soccer was a game that isn’t over until the 90th minute. In Dortmund,Germany,on Tuesday night,the home side,Borussia,appeared to be going out of the Champions League. It needed two goals to turn around the contest against Málaga,and the 90 minutes was over.

Then,amid a frenzy that seemed to get to everyone — even the match officials — Borussia’s swarming attacks overcame Málaga’s defenses. The Bees,as Dortmunders call their team,scored twice in the time that the referee adds for stoppages,including injuries and deliberate time wasting.

This turnaround beats even the comeback in 1999 in which Manchester United scored twice against Bayern Munich in the dying moments of the Champions League final played in Barcelona.

That was a legendary finish. Tuesday was something else. Neither team had scored during the first leg in Málaga,but when the official hour and a half was over in Dortmund’s cavernous stadium,there was a gathering despair,a desperation,among the vast majority of the 65,000 fans. Just 2,500 were cheering. They had come from the Spanish resort city,and their team was leading,2-1. All Málaga’s players had to do was run down the clock for those precious minutes of stoppage time. They couldn’t do it. Dortmund abandoned its smooth passing game and launched the ball high and long into the Málaga goal mouth. One goal brought parity,and the second broke the deadlock. With the score 3-2,the Scottish referee Craig Thomson blew the final whistle.

Do we call it the greatest comeback of all time? The eternal spirit of the Germans? Or something else?

“It is crazy,” said Dortmund Coach Jürgen Klopp. “Absolutely crazy. I cannot describe what is happening inside me. I would have to ask a doctor.”

Dortmund defender Neven Subotic said: “I really never had such an experience in my life.” And it has been some life,as Subotic was born in the former Yugoslavia,moved to Germany as a refugee from the Bosnian War,went to school in the United States and at 24 represents Dortmund and Serbia at soccer.

As Subotic spoke,he saw and heard Málaga’s players gathered around a television screen in the tunnel beneath the stands. Some were in tears,while others were screaming at television replays that showed that not one but four Dortmund players were in an offside position in the buildup to the final goal.

“Yeah,” Subotic acknowledged,“it does seem to be offside. But this is football. You know what? I don’t even care if it was deserved or not.” And with that,he rejoined the celebration.

The furor that becomes almost commonplace when one team loses and another gets lucky took due course.

Maybe the referee and his assistants were not the only ones struggling to keep their eyes and minds on the task at hand,because not only was Borussia’s final scorer,Felipe Santana,offside when he bundled the ball over the line,but Málaga’s second goal,by Eliseu,was a good yard offside.

Two wrongs should not make a right. Thomson,his linesmen and the extra official that UEFA employs close to the goal line must all look at their work in Dortmund and answer to themselves whether they were competent decisions.

The game,however,is over. Dortmund,a fine young team that played way below par on Tuesday,will go into the semifinal draw on Friday. Málaga goes on to an uncertain future. And Málaga’s excellent Chilean coach,Manuel Pellegrini,is left to reflect on the worst week of his life.

It began with the funeral of his father in Santiago,and it ended,in Pellegrini’s words,with his team being “so impaired” by the officials in Dortmund. “It is not,” Pellegrini concluded,“a bitterness that will go away from one day to the next.”

Bitter regrets after a tumultuous night. The sadness is that game-ending controversy overshadowed the memory of legitimate goals. The first,from Málaga’s Spanish winger Joaquín,followed a fabulous body swerve to his right to deceive defender Marcel Schmelzer,followed by a left-footed shot through the legs of Subotic.

Then Mario Götze,Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski combined for an equalizing goal that was heavenly. Götze executed a sweeping low cross from the right,Reus instinctively used his heel to put Lewandowski through,and Lewandowski not only sensed the unorthodox pass but flicked the ball gently over the onrushing keeper and then remained composed enough to finish off the chance with his second touch.

It was marvelous athletic coordination on a night that ended in errant decision making that should not happen at this level of the sport.

When Klopp was asked if his team could win the Champions League,he responded: “If we play like tonight,no. If we play like we have before,with the passion of tonight,then yes,maybe.” (NYT)

Malaga owner says ‘racism’ behind team’s ouster,may face UEFA ire

MANCHESTER: Malaga owner Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani could face disciplinary action from UEFA after Tweeting that his team’s Champions League elimination was due to “racism.”

The Qatari was angry that Borussia Dortmund scored from what looked to be an offside position in stoppage time Tuesday to reach the semifinals with a 3-2 win. Al-Thani hit out at UEFA on Twitter after the match,and went further on Wednesday by writing: “We were targeted from the beginning of the season by corrupt UEFA and based on racism.”

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino says Al-Thani’s tweets “will now be analyzed by our disciplinary inspectors.”

Malaga plan to make a formal complaint about the referee after Tuesday’s last-gasp defeat.

The club’s director general,Vicente Casado said that Malaga would file a written complaint with soccer’s European governing body UEFA.

Malaga was already angry with UEFA after being banned from European club competitions for next season for failing to pay full player wages and tax bills on time.

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