Champions League PIX: Dortmund stun Chelsea; Benfica win

Adeyemi solo strike earns Dortmund 1-0 win over Chelsea

Borussia Dortmund snatched a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in the Champions League round of 16 first leg on Wednesday courtesy of Karim Adeyemi’s superb goal to extend their winning run this year.

Germany international Adeyemi sprinted more than 60 metres and slotted home against the run of play to give his team the advantage going into the return leg in London on March 7.

“We dominated the first half. They had chances but we were in control for the majority of the first half,” said Dortmund captain Jude Bellingham.

“In the second half we took the foot off the gas and they had more control. We showed how well we can defend and see out games.”

Big-spending Chelsea’s inefficiency in front of goal has been an issue for the Premier League club this season and they have registered only one win in 2023.

They missed a number of good chances against Dortmund, including hitting the woodwork through Joao Felix, but failed to find an equaliser.

They looked sharper at the start of the game and Thiago Silva put the ball in the net after 16 minutes, but the Chelsea captain was penalised for a handball after he had tried to head in a cross.

Dortmund gradually found more space and hit the side netting through Sebastien Haller in the 27th minute.

The visitors, who spent more than $350 million on transfers during the winter window to bring in eight players, responded with two big chances of their own to Felix, with the Portuguese also hitting the crossbar after beating Kobel.

Both teams had to wait until the second half to get their first shots on target, with Kobel punching a powerful Reece James free kick wide and his Chelsea counterpart, Kepa Arrizabalaga, stopping Julian Brandt’s low drive.

But with Chelsea pushing for a goal and forcing another fine Kobel save, it was Dortmund who struck after 63 minutes.

Adeyemi picked up a clearance from a Chelsea corner and raced half the length of the pitch before beating Fernandez in the sprint and rounding Kepa to score.

“It’s a poor goal. We have to do better. We were pushing at the time and we were the better team,” said Chelsea manager Graham Potter. “They (players) know they can do better with that. But we will focus on the positives. It was another step forward for us.

“The spirit is there in the team. We need a bit of luck and the performance level we had tonight and just keep improving,” Potter said.

The hosts had to survive late scares, with Kalidou Koulibaly’s shot cleared off the line by Emre Can and Kobel again denying Fernandez deep in stoppage time with a great save before the German side secured their seventh consecutive win.

Benfica beat Brugge at the double away in Champions League

Joao Mario’s second-half penalty and a late goal from David Neres gave Benfica a 2-0 win over Club Brugge in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Belgium on Wednesday, leaving the Portuguese club with a major advantage for next month’s return.

Joao Mario’s 51st-minute spot kick came after Benfica had spurned a host of good opportunities as they dominated the away encounter and ensured they have a lead to defend at home in the return in Lisbon on March 7.

The penalty was awarded after Brugge’s Scottish defender Jack Hendry had brought down Goncalo Ramos in a clumsy challenge.

Neres took advantage of a defensive slip to tuck away the second goal in the 88th minute.

Brugge defender Bjorn Meijer failed to clear and substitute Neres stole in to take possession and score. He had a further effort in the net in stoppage time disallowed for offside.

Joao Mario was among a host of Benfica attackers who missed good chances in the first half as the two-time European Cup winners overcame a good early spell from Club Brugge to set up a series of opportunities.

Ramos and Antonio Silva squandered the best opportunities as they put their headed efforts over the top.

With the crowd in full support, Brugge produced a bright start to the game with both Tajon Buchanan and Noa Lang having efforts blocked in the opening 20 minutes at the Jan Breydel Stadium.

But, after that, the visitors took command and were able to easily cut through the home defence, though they proved poor with their finishing.

Brugge had the ball in Benfica’s net a minute before halftime but Denis Odoi was offside as he got a back-post touch to Lang’s free kick.

The Belgians, under new English coach Scott Parker, were hoping the Champions League would give them a chance to shake off a run of poor domestic form but now face an uphill struggle to stay in the competition.

They won 4-0 at FC Porto in September when they emerged as surprise qualifiers from the group phase and will need a similar shock result to advance to the quarter-finals.

Benfica extended their best-ever unbeaten run in the Champions League to eight matches.

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