Borussia Dortmund scored twice in a dramatic stoppage-time finale, including a controversial offside goal, to beat Malaga 3-2 and reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 15 years.
Malaga appeared to be going through to the last four in their sparkling debut season in the Champions League, but their dreams were dashed when last-gasp goals from Marco Reus and Felipe Santana sent the German club through in a stunning encounter.
Santana’s winner left the Malaga players fuming because, when the cross came in, four Dortmund players appeared to be offside and the Brazilian defender himself also looked offside when he poked the ball over the line in the dying seconds.
“Football is an act that involves many factors. The third goal was an offside goal, and there were all kinds of elbows and punches,” Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said.
For Dortmund, European champions in 1997, but close to financial ruin in 2005, it was another big step on a long road back to success after they lifted the Bundesliga title the previous two seasons.
“I have never experienced anything like this. We were already dead,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke told reporters.
The club’s sports director, Michael Zorc, added: “It is difficult to put this into words. We were lucky tonight. The team missed so many chances, but kept on believing.”
Malaga had a difficult buildup to the match, losing in La Liga on Saturday to Real Sociedad and traveling to Germany without Pellegrini, who arrived early on Tuesday after returning to his native Chile at the weekend following the death of his father.
The Spaniards initially tried to stifle Borussia Dortmund’s game and pressed high up the pitch to stop them launching quick attacks.
Dortmund gradually found their passing game, though, and came close to scoring when Robert Lewandowski chipped the ball over goalkeeper Willy Caballero, but it sailed just wide.
However, Malaga, who were held to a 0-0 draw in the first leg, stunned the 66,000 crowd when Joaquin shook off his markers and drilled in a low shot for the lead after 25 minutes.
Dortmund striker Lewandowski drew the hosts level in the 40th minute and they squandered a string of chances in the second half through Reus and Mario Goetze, much like in Spain, where Dortmund failed to score, despite dominating.
Eliseu appeared to seal Dortmund’s fate when he put the Spaniards ahead again in the 82nd minute, although he looked offside when he received the ball inside the area.
The Germans refused to give in, though, and sparked wild celebrations among their fans by booking a semi-final place.
Malaga, who toppled former European champions Porto in the previous round and AC Milan in the group stage, had looked set to become the first team to beat Dortmund in Europe this season, but ended up feeling robbed of a spot in the last four.
“We are very disappointed. We were four minutes from a semi-final and everything slipped out of our hands in those last few minutes,” Malaga striker Roque Santa Cruz said.
Malaga owner Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani said on Twitter that his team’s elimination was because of “racism.”
He wrote on his Twitter account that “this is not football, but racism and clear of all.”
“Thank you very much for the team, you have been champions on the pitch. I’m sorry to go out this way injustice and racism,” he wrote, adding that he hoped UEFA opens a “thorough investigation” into the club’s exit.
One Malaga goal also appeared to be offside.
Malaga’s players and coach, along with a large part of the Spanish media, were also critical of the referee.
In December last year, UEFA banned Malaga from European competition for one upcoming season for not paying wages and taxes on time.