Borussia Dortmund are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the second consecutive season although they looks far less intimidating than the team that reached the final last year.
Crippled by a series of injuries to key players and struggling at home this season, Dortmund were far from convincing in a 2-1 defeat to Zenit on Wednesday. However, the 4-2 victory in the first leg in St. Petersburg was enough for Juergen Klopp’s side to win 5-4 on aggregate and seal their place in Friday’s draw.
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller turned away a late shot by Igor Smolnikov to prevent an even bigger defeat.
“We surely didn’t play a great game but we are in the quarterfinals,” Sebastian Kehl said.
“That goal by Kehl allowed us to calm down,” said Klopp, who acknowledged the quality of the Russian side. “They can really play and they gave us some problems.”
Dortmund will be without striker Robert Lewandowski for the first leg of the quarterfinals after he picked up his third yellow card of the competition for handling the ball.
“I thought I had been pushed from behind and that’s why handled the ball,” Lewandowski said. “The main thing is that we went through.”
“The yellow card was laughable,” Klopp said.
With its comfortable lead from the first leg, Dortmund allowed Zenit to get into the match quickly, through a spectacular solo effort by Hulk. The Brazil striker shook off Kehl and cut inside past two defenders to blast a left-foot shot that swerved away from goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller on its way into the net.
Zenit threatened a couple more times before Kehl got the equalizer.
Marcel Schmelzer broke down the left flank and swung in a high cross. Kehl raced into the area and rose above the defence to send in a header that keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev got both hands to but could only push into the net.
It was the captain’s first Champions League goal in 30 matches.
“They have some good players up front but we didn’t allow them too many chances,” Kehl said.
Early in the second half, Hulk unleashed a fierce free kick from about 30 meters (yards) that sailed high.
Rondon scored Zenit’s second following a cross by Domenico Criscito from just outside the penalty area on the left evading defender Mats Hummels to head home from close range.
Zenit, coached by Sergei Semak on an interim basis until Andre Villas-Boas takes over when the team returns home, kept up the pressure and Igor Smolnikov sent a low shot that Weidenfeller barely managed to turn away in the 88th.
The last time Dortmund made it to the last eight in two straight seasons was 16 years ago. It won the title in 1997 and then reached the semifinals in the next year.