Karim rises to the top after delivering on time
The first ever clash between Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea resulted in a 1-0 UEFA Champions League (UCL) round of 16 first-leg win for Der BVB, with a solitary goal from Karim Adeyemi breaking the German side’s 12-match winless streak against British clubs.
Despite their shocking recent form in the Premier League, two-time UCL champions Chelsea have been a different beast in this competition since Graham Potter’s appointment, winning each of their final four group matches. However, it would not be an easy trip to the Ruhr, where BVB, having won all of their six competitive outings in 2023, would be backed by a capacity 81,500 crowd in Europe for the first time.
As Signal Iduna Park’s famous Südtribüne unfurled a stunning display to mark the occasion, the home side began brightly, setting their standards for the game with a flurry of early half-chances. Nevertheless, there was quality on display from both sides, and the Blues were actually the first to have the ball in the net when a Reece James free kick was turned in by Thiago Silva, but the referee adjudged the ball to have touched the Brazilian’s hand on its way in.
Dortmund’s midfield continued to dominate proceedings, and Sébastien Haller could only find the side netting following some direct running from the influential Julian Brandt, but Chelsea were to have arguably the best chance of the first period. Kai Havertz refused to give up on a long ball, holding it up well for João Félix, whose dancing footwork puzzled Marius Wolf and created enough space to shoot, but the January signing chipped his shot against the bar.
Chelsea returned to the field in the second half with new inspiration, adopting fluid positioning with overlapping wing play. In turn, right-back Reece James was to become their greatest attacking threat, as he hit the target with both a direct free kick and a looping volley shortly after HT. However, their commitment to attack left them short at the back, and Karim Adeyemi – a recent Bundesliga sprint speed record breaker – punished them with an immense show of pace, darting from his own half and into the Chelsea box. He took the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga and finished into the empty net, sending the Yellow Wall into pandemonium.
Potter’s side wasted no time in launching an assault on the Dortmund goal in response, and would have been level if not for a valiant goal-line clearance from Emre Can. In the latter stages, Nico Schlotterbeck and Can proved particularly important for Dortmund’s defensive effort, and made sure that their side would travel to London with the advantage. The Blues, meanwhile, have now gone ten away matches without a win in all competitions.