Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Lazio, Signal Iduna Park
(Guerreiro 44′ — Immobile pen 67′)
Borussia Dortmund may be through to the last 16 but they’ll be happy to see the back of Ciro Immobile. The Lazio captain endured a fruitless spell in Dortmund under Jürgen Klopp, but has come back to haunt his former employers not once this season, but twice.
His goal and assist at the Stadio Olimpico in October was bad enough for Lucien Favre’s side, but his second half penalty here means Dortmund’s hopes of securing top spot in the group rest on next week’s last round of games. A better result in Russia against Zenit St Petersburg than Lazio on home turf against Club Brugge will lock up top spot for the German side.
Dortmund will feel aggrieved that the penalty from which Immobile sent Roman Bürki the wrong way, was a dive by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Or to put it bluntly, a clear act of cheating. His Fosbury Flop over substitute Niko Schulz’s leg conned the referee, the distinguished Antonio Mateu, and the Spanish official took the bait. Where’s VAR when you need it?
For Dortmund, it was a functional if not dazzling display, which started comfortably enough but ended with their backs against the wall. Dortmund were good value for their point in an even game, but Lazio’s late pressure meant the final whistle came as something of a relief. In fact, Lazio could have had a second penalty deep inside stoppage time when Axel Witsel appeared to strike the Belgian’s hand, but Mateu decided he’d had enough and blew the final whistle. A bigger worry for Dortmund though was the sight of Mats Hummels limping off at full time with heavy strapping on his left foot.
Bellingham’s signs of maturity
Jude Bellingham has played in all five of Dortmund’s Champions League games this season and it was against Lazio in the reverse fixture that the Englishman made his debut. At the Stadio Olimpico, however, he was withdrawn by Favre at half-time having struggled to impose himself after his mistake led to Lazio’s opener that night. It was a chastening experience.
A few weeks on, Bellingham’s progress has been rapid. Against the same opponents, he showed far greater restraint in central midfield, producing dynamic attacking moments but also demonstrating the maturity to influence the game from a deeper position. His cool head, keenness to get forward, passing ability and positional awareness belies his tender age of 17, and his performance was a cause for encouragement for the Bundesliga side.
While Bellingham’s performance shone through, this wasn’t a night when Dortmund had things all their own way. Blunted by the absence of the injured Erling Haaland, Raphael Guerreiro emerged as Dortmund’s only goalscorer on a night when the returning Immobile proved a thorn in their side once more.