UEFA Champions League: Madrid escape Borussia defeat with Ozil free-kick

Reuters, MADRID

Thu, Nov 08, 2012 - Page 18

A moment of magic from Mesut Ozil late in the game salvaged a 2-2 draw for Real Madrid at home to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday and boosted their chances of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout round as Group D winners.

Cristiano Ronaldo usually takes the free-kicks for Real, but left Ozil to curl a shot into the net off a post in the 89th minute, with Dortmund ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller slow to react, and put Jose Mourinho’s side level for the second time.

Ozil’s goal against a side full of his Germany teammates denied Dortmund an impressive double that would have put them in pole position to top the group after they beat Mourinho’s expensively assembled side 2-1 in Germany last month.

Marco Reus volleyed the German champions ahead in the 28th minute before Pepe equalized with a header six minutes later and Real’s Alvaro Arbeloa poked the ball into his own net.

Real enjoyed lots of possession, but created few genuine chances and Dortmund’s tactic of playing on the break nearly got them a win.

The draw leaves Dortmund top on eight points after four of their six group matches, with Real second on seven ahead of Ajax Amsterdam (four) and Manchester City (two) following their 2-2 draw in the other match in the section.

Mourinho, who is trying to lead Real to the 10th European crown that has eluded them since 2002, said he did not care whether they finished first or second in the group. They play at City on Nov. 21 and host Ajax on Dec. 4.

Marcel Schmelzer and Kevin Grosskreutz tested Iker Casillas after swift attacks before Reus broke the deadlock.

Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski nodded a long ball into the midfielder’s path and Reus held off Arbeloa before crashing a shot past Casillas on the bounce.

Real leveled when Pepe powered a header into the net from Ozil’s cross, but Dortmund were back in front moments before halftime when Lewandowski won another header to release Grosskreutz who flicked the ball on for Mario Goetze.

The 20-year-old was initially awarded the goal, but replays showed Arbeloa had poked the ball into his own net.

Mourinho, a typically expressive presence on the Real bench, made two changes at the break, hauling off the disappointing Luka Modric and the injured Gonzalo Higuain and replacing them with Michael Essien and Jose Callejon.

His players came out fighting and Callejon sent a low shot narrowly wide in the 49th minute before Weidenfeller did well to block the substitute’s close-range effort.

Dortmund looked to be closing in on a win that would have made them only the second German side to claim a victory at the Bernabeu, after Bayern Munich.

However, Ozil, who plays with many of the Dortmund side for Germany, produced a moment of great quality to salvage a point.

“We had direct qualification in our hands,” Dortmund manager Juergen Klopp told a news conference. “But we have two games left. We’re pleased with a draw.”