Borussia Dortmund made an emphatic statement of intent in UEFA Champions League Group F by putting six unanswered goals past Legia Warszawa.
The Polish champions are back on European club football’s greatest stage for the first time since 1995/96 having negotiated three qualifying rounds. However, Besnik Hasi’s side may not yet feel like they belong there, after conceding three goals inside 17 minutes on their comeback appearance.
First Mario Götze nodded Ousmane Dembele’s left-wing cross past Arkadiusz Malarz. Then, from one Raphaël Guerreiro free-kick, Sokratis Papastathopoulos headed the second; and following the Portuguese’s next set piece, Marc Bartra finished off a goalmouth scramble for three.
Guerreiro, operating in central midfield rather than on the left, swept home the fourth soon after half-time. Substitute Gonzalo Castro later turned in Christian Pulišić’s centre, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completed the rout on the counter.
Key player: Raphaël Guerreiro (Dortmund)
The UEFA EURO 2016 winner not only contributed to two of BVB’s opening three strikes, he also precluded any possible second-half revival from the hosts with a clipped finish from just inside the area. That effort rewarded a performance that was as good offensively as it was defensively from the versatile left-footer. The summer signing from Lorient certainly played his part in Dortmund’s biggest away victory in Europe.
Dortmund’s bright young things
Newly returned to Dortmund from Bayern, Götze was at the vanguard of BVB’s scintillating start to Group F, his header heralding the visitors’ utterly dominant first half. Now 24, the one-time Dortmund prodigy was the most senior of Thomas Tuchel’s ‘brat pack’ in Warsaw, composed of Christian Pulišić (17), Dembele (19), Julian Weigl (21), Guerreiro (22), and subs Emre Mor (19) and Matthias Ginter (22) .
No end to Legia struggles
Legia coach Hasi likes to rotate and his selection here contained several surprises, with reliable goalscorer Nemanja Nikolić benched for Aleksandar Prijović, recent midfield recruit Valeri Kazaishvili given a debut, and Maciej Dąbrowski and Jakub Czerwiński forming a new-look centre-back pairing. In that mitigating context, the resulting heavy defeat was perhaps understandable. Even more so when you consider how Legia’s Polish title defence has failed to ignite, with the champions currently fourth bottom of the Ekstraklasa.
Piotr Koźmiński, Legia (@UEFAcomPiotrK)
While the Legia family were thrilled to be back in the land of the giants, the more pessimistic (or realistic) among them worried what the campaign ultimately might hold for the Warsaw club. Unfortunately for Legia, matchday one appeared to preface, at best, a very steep learning curve. That historic 1995/96 season included, the Poles have now not scored in their last six UEFA Champions League outings. How long that run will continue is anyone’s guess. At least Michał Pazdan and Michał Kucharczyk will be back soon from injury …