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Aubameyang hat-trick sends Dortmund through

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Dortmund’s forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with his teammates during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, 2nd-leg football match Borussia Dortmund v SL Benfica in Dortmund, western Germany on March 8, 2017
© dpa/AFP Bernd Thissen

DORTMUND, Germany, March 8 – A hat-trick by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic’s dazzling display fired Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-0 thrashing of Benfica on Wednesday.

The result saw Dortmund win the round-of-16 tie 4-1 on aggregate after Aubameyang’s early goal cancelled out Borussia’s 1-0 defeat in Lisbon last month.

The Gabon hot-shot has now scored seven times in his last three games and has seven Champions League goals in as many matches this season.

He is on 28 goals for the season as Dortmund reached the last eight in Europe for the first time since 2013/14.

But it fell to US international Pulisic, who only turns 19 in September, to net the Germans’ crucial second on 59 minutes, which put Dortmund ahead for the first time on aggregate.

Pulisic, in for injured Germany winger Marco Reus, claimed his first Champions League goal and set up Aubameyang’s opening goal in an impressive all-round display.

After Kostas Mitroglou sealed Benfica’s 1-0 first-leg victory, Dortmund took just four minutes to cancel out the advantage.

Ousmane Dembele’s corner was flicked on by Pulisic to Aubameyang, who headed home at the far post to delight the sell-out Signal Iduna Park crowd.

It was redemption for the Gabon striker, who had a night to forget in the first leg, missing four clear chances including a penalty in Lisbon.

After a strong start from the hosts, Benfica clawed their way back with captain Luisao heading straight at Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki from a free-kick midway through the half.

Dembele showed his youth, needlessly picking up a booking from English referee Martin Atkinson late in the first half for bitterly complaining after conceding a free-kick with a push on Andreas Samaris.

Benfica grew in confidence as the half wore on and Dortmund’s defence wobbled, but it finished 1-0 at the break.

Dortmund had a big let-off soon after when Lukasz Piszczek failed with a clearance, which Franco Cervi snapped up on the edge of the box, but his shot was blocked.

Aubameyang then squandered three golden chances at close range before Pulisic finally got the breakthrough.

The US starlet chipped his shot over the advancing Ederson on 59 minutes after Piszczek’s superb pass into the area.

Aubameyang grabbed his second just two minutes later when he stabbed home Marcel Schmelzer’s pass.

He hit his third goal of the night on 85 minutes when Erik Durm’s run and cross from the right handed him a simple tap-in.

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