Football Football

Klopp delight as Dortmund hit top gear


DORTMUND-ZENITSAINT PETERSBURG, February 26 – Coach Jurgen Klopp said Borussia Dortmund had produced a near-perfect performance to leave them on the verge of the Champions League’s quarter-finals after routing Zenit St Petersburg away on Tuesday.

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Dortmund romped to a 4-2 win at Zenit’s Petrovsky Stadium in the last 16, first-leg clash.

Klopp was delighted as Borussia bounced back from Saturday’s shock 3-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Hamburg in the Bundesliga to dominate Zenit.

Last season’s finalists raced into a 2-0 lead with goals by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus inside the first five minutes to leave the Russians reeling.

The hosts pulled two goals back after the break as central midfielder Oleg Shatov scored, then Brazil’s Hulk converted a penalty.

But on both occasions Dortmund responded almost immediately as Lewandowski scored twice toi give the German side a huge advantage ahead of the second leg next month.

“That was close to an optimal performance,” said Klopp.

“In terms of pressing and counter pressing, that was a copybook performance from us against a dangerous team.

“We were incredibly active and aggressive.

“It’s not easy to do that and the team put in a fantastic performance.

“We played against a very talented side, who showed the whole time that they wanted to play football.

“Even up to the end of the game, St Petersburg didn’t resort to hitting long balls and always tried to find ways of getting behind us.

“Zenit were always dangerous whenever Hulk had the ball.”

But Klopp urged caution ahead of the return leg on March 19 by insisting nothing has been decided yet.

“Champions League has never been about blowing the final whistle after the first leg,” said the 46-year-old.

“Overall, this is a very nice night for us, but we are not yet in the quarterfinals.

“We have still a lot of hard work ahead of us in the second leg.”

Klopp was clearly delighted to see his team produce the perfect response after the Hamburg defeat had left Dortmund in third place but 20 points behind Bundesliga leaders Bayern.

“It was clear to me that my team would produce a reaction,” said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.

“My team can never be accused of going about their business without showing some character.

“We didn’t give 100 percent against Hamburg and played too little football.

“We conceded goals at the wrong moments and didn’t get a result.

“Today we produced the correct reaction after conceding each goal.”