WRITTEN BY WAQAR HUSSAIN (DSB.site)
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Liverpool
A surreal night of Europa League football inside one of the cathedrals of world football in the Signal Iduna Park saw the two favourites for the tournament battle to a hard fought draw upon the return of Jürgen Klopp to the very club he left an everlasting legacy on less than 12 months ago.
The visitors took a shock lead midway through the first half thanks to a cool finish from Belgian striker Divock Origi, however the Bundesliga outfit struck back within minutes of the second half starting. Mats Hummels towered above Adam Lallana to drive a bullet header past Simon Mignolet.
Fired up by a vociferious rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' ahead of the blockbuster tie, both sets of players were set up to stun the opposition with quick, breakneck attacks from deep positions, fueled by the high intensity, pressing system instilled into them by their respective managers.
A quiet start saw Liverpool stand firm against the side that has not been defeated in 2016, Reds' goalkeeper Simon Mignolet not required to make a solitary save in the opening quarter of an hour. It was the visitors' Croatian defender Dejan Lovren who found himself free six yards out from goal, however his tame header did not trouble Weidenfeller in the home net.
In the 33rd minute, Dortmund's playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan lost balance and sliced a shot wide from 20 yards out. It would prove a costly miss as moments later Klopp's Reds found themselves a goal to the good instead, James Milner nodded forward a hopeful ball into the stride of Divock Origi, who made no mistake to justify his manager's decision to drop Daniel Sturridge with a clinical finish into the bottom corner.
The young forward could have, and maybe should have extended his side's lead with the final play of the first half, a counter attack led by Phillipe Coutinho found Origi with time and space to run into, but Weidenfeller was not to be thwarted again, the German stood imposing and minimised the angle to get his arm onto the ball which otherwise seemed destined to nestle in the net once again.
The level of performance from the Bundesliga's second best side was not one that we have been accustomed to this season. Just a solitary goal and a real lack of creative spark shows that Klopp had his old side at gunpoint, without the correct bullets.
Regardless, both fans will be eager to see what sort of spectacle we are served up at Anfield in a week's time, it seems quite likely that whichever side emerges the victor will be firm favourites to go on and lift the silverware at St Jakob's Park in Basel on 18 May.