Manchester City have secured top spot in their UEFA Champions League group with a game to spare following a 0-0 draw with Borussia Dortmund, who themselves have also booked a place in the knockout rounds in the New Year.
The game hinged on Riyad Mahrez failing to convert a second-half penalty and Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel making the final save of the game.
With City already assured of 16th place before kick-off, Pep Guardiola saw fit to make a few changes to his squad, leaving Ederson and Kevin De Bruyne on the bench. But while the visitors dominated possession, it was Dortmund who had the best of the early chances.
Julian Brandt took a free kick that narrowly missed the goal and bounced off the pitch pile into the side netting. Karim Adeyemi, the elder statesman in Dortmund’s front three at the age of 20, should have done better when he broke through and hit it straight at Stefano Ortega.
Ortega was called into action again when Giovanni Reyna got into a good position. But the subsequent shot was too weak to ask the incoming City goalkeeper any meaningful questions.
Yet Ortega would have no chance if Youssoufa Moukoko hit the target in a great chance in front of goal when he failed to connect properly as Adeyemi fired into the penalty area. In the closing stages of the first half, Ortega collected himself from Moukoka’s shot.
Erling Haaland, who will be disappointed on his return to Signal Iduna Park, did not feature again after half-time, while Guardiola also opted to withdraw Joao Cancelo at the break.
Even with less possession, Dortmund were stronger on the hour and deserved to be in the lead when Emre Can momentarily lost his head and cut down Mahrez needlessly in a crowded penalty area. Fortunately for Can, Kobel guessed right and saved Mahrez’s follow-up effort from 12 yards to roar off the iconic yellow wall behind the opposite goal.
Kobel later had to make a smart stop in front of an otherwise quiet Julian Alvarez, with Phil Foden unable to collect on the rebound. It was a sign that the tide was beginning to turn as City created more meaningful chances than in the first half and Dortmund were subdued.
In the end, a point was enough for both sides and the draw served them both well.
Borussia Dortmund vs Man City – Player ratings
1. Borussia Dortmund (4-3-3)
GK: Gregor Kobel – 8/10 – His second half penalty save proved crucial in putting Dortmund into the last 16. Made another decent save.
RB: Niklas Sule – 7/10 – Did his job to quash the threat on that side.
CB: Mats Hummels (c) – 9/10 – Rolled back the years with a vintage performance that kept Haaland super quiet.
CB: Nico Schlotterbeck – 7/10 – A strong performance against a dangerous opposition.
LB: Thorgan Hazard – 7/10 – Occupied a very high position with Dortmund in possession. Disciplined off the ball.
CM: Jude Bellingham – 6/10 – Continues to impress at the highest level but, overall, has had far better nights than this one.
CM: Emre Can – 6/10 – Sat deep and stifled City through the middle but conceded a penalty in a moment of madness. Had his goalkeeper to thank.
CM: Julian Brandt – 6/10 – Involved in some good Dortmund play. Went close with a first half free-kick.
RW: Karim Adeyemi – 7/10 – A clear threat down the right flank. Seemed to fade just a little in the second half.
ST: Youssoufa Moukoko – 6/10 – Squandered a glorious chance in the first half that would have changed everything. At 17, he lacks experience.
LW: Giovanni Reyna – 5/10 – Had a tame shot comfortably saved by Ortega. Easily the least involved of the front three.
SUB: Donyell Malen (73′ for Adeyemi) – 5/10 –
SUB: Anthony Modeste (82′ for Moukoko) – N/A
SUB: Marius Wolf (82′ for Hazard) – N/A
SUB: Antonios Papadopoulos (87′ for Reyna) – N/A
Manager: Edin Terzic – 8/10 – His starters served him well, with attacking changes to later freshen things up in the final stretch of the game.
2. Man City (4-4-2)