Upon his arrival in the Spanish capital, newly appointed Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho was well aware that one of his main objectives at the club was to return the Champions League trophy to the Bernabeu for a record tenth time. It would be hard for him to imagine that a club on the verge of bankruptcy less than a decade ago would be the team to stop him.
Dortmund have gone from strength to strength under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, with a cluster of shrewd moves in the transfer market as well as a crop of talented youth products allowing the former Mainz manager to build a side that has rose from languishing in the middle of the Bundesliga to being on the verge of a Champions League final.
If Dortmund needed any more motivation other than a place in the final at Wembley in May then their domestic rivals Bayern Munich provided it, dismantling Barcelona in the other semi-final the day after the Bavarian club announced they’d agreed a deal for one of Dortmund’s star players, attacking midfielder Mario Gotze.
And if the soon to be departed Gotze grabbed the headlines before kick-off it was his forward partner Lewandowski who snatched them away from him at the end of the ninety minutes, firing no less than four goals past the most successful team in the history of the competition in what was one of the most assured performances by a striker in the history of the competition.
Unlike their Spanish rivals Barcelona, Real Madrid did manage to get one goal on German soil, with Cristiano Ronaldo cancelling out Lewandowski’s first goal after Gonzalo Higuain capitalised on a poor attempted pass back from Matts Hummels, but it wasn’t enough and the second-half saw the hosts push on to walk away with a comfortable win.
The result leaves Real Madrid with little chance of making it to the final, bar an excellent performance in the second-leg, leaving the clash at Wembley set up for an all-German final which shows the immense improvement in the quality of Germany's top two sides over recent years, and the uphill struggle the Spanish giants face to stop them taking a stranglehold on the European game.
Dortmund had the first clear-cut chance of the game, with Khedira being dispossessed in the middle of the park, allowing the hosts to break quickly through Marco Reus, with the forward rounding a handful of Madrid defenders before seeing his shot tipped away by Diego Lopez, with Lewandowski’s follow-up deflected away by Ramos.
Moments later however Lewandowski was luckier in front of goal, with another clever break by the home side leading to Gundogan sending it out to the left to Gotze, who played it into the box into the path of the advancing Lewandowski, allowing the Bundesliga’s leading scorer to fire past Lopez and give Dortmund the lead.
A Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick from just outside the box forced a good save out of Roman Weidenfeller, the veteran Dortmund keeper, but the Portuguese wasn’t his usual dominating self in the opening 30 minutes, being outshined by Gundogan, dominating in the midfield, and Reus, who terrorised the Real back line.
But it didn’t take long for Ronaldo to come good, with Hummels attempting to play an incredibly risky ball back to Weidenfeller which Higuain easily intercepted, breaking forward quickly and cutting into the box before sliding the ball across the face of goal to Ronaldo who, for all his sensational strikes, is unlikely to score an easier one.
Just after the half-time break Dortmund struck back, and once again it was their top scorer Lewandowski, firing in from close range after being played in by a first-time ball from Reus. The Real Madrid players quickly pleaded with the officials for offside, but the referee and his team rightly allowed the goal to stand and the hosts went back into the lead.
Moments later Lewandowski completed his hat-trick, controlling the ball in the box and evading a lunging challenge from Pepe before firing his effort past Lopez and high into the corner. A composed finish by a striker undoubtedly top of the shopping list of many a top European club, including domestic rivals Bayern, this season.
Dortmund further extended their lead over their Spanish rivals as Xabi Alonso brought down Reus in the box to give away a penalty. Lewandowski was the man to step up to take it, and to cap off another emphatic performance from the striker, fired it home from the spot to put them within touching distance of a Champions League final.
Rather than sitting back the hosts continued to assert their dominance into the latter stages of the game. Reus had the ball in the back of the net only to see his effort ruled out for offside before Lewandowski, playing with absolute confidence having netted four already, saw a shot from distance well-saved by Lopez.