Too little, too late: a last ditch brace from Real Madrid was one goal short of what the Spanish giants needed to stand a chance of winning their tenth European crown as Borussia Dortmund progressed to the Champions League final with a 4-3 aggregate victory.
If Jose Mourinho was left questioning Real’s defensive performance in the first-leg he would have been left wondering how it took until the last eight minutes at the Bernabeu for his side to break down a susceptible Dortmund defence with goals from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos.
Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil all squandered chances for the hosts in the early stages of the game, whilst Robert Lewandowski, scorer of all four of Dortmund’s goals in the first-leg, wasting a handful of opportunities which nearly cost his side dear as Real rallied late on.
But with Madrid unable to clinch a third Dortmund walked out deserving of their place in the final at the expense of a Real side that rarely reached the level of performance they have shown themselves to be capable of in the past.
Jurgen Klopp, unsurprisingly, named the same Borussia Dortmund team that beat their hosts 4-1 in the first-leg, with Lewandowski, scorer of all four of Dortmund’s goals in the opening fixture, leading the line for last year’s German champions.
After lambasting the way in which the centre-half pairing of Pepe and Raphael Varane handled Lewandowski in the first-leg, Mourinho opted to switch Ramos, who played out right in 4-1 defeat, into the middle, with Pepe benched and Michael Essien brought in to play full-back.
Madrid playmaker Ozil was the catalyst for a couple of good early chances for Madrid, first playing Higuain through on goal before teeing up Ronaldo, with the former seeing his effort well-saved by Roman Weidenfeller before the latter fired a shot uncharacteristically high from close range.
Down the other end of the field Lewandowski was offered a rare sight on goal after eluding Ramos, but could only fire directly at Diego Lopez before a quick break from Real Madrid saw Ronaldo do almost exactly the same thing down the other end shortly before Mario Gotze was taken off injured and replaced by Grosskreutz.
With Madrid unable to keep up the pressure as the half went on, and Dortmund looking more solid at the back, the chances dried up as the half-time whistle beckoned, with a chipped ball into the box offering the best chance for Madrid to capitalise before the break, but the ball was collected by Weidenfeller just before it could reach the head of Ronaldo.
A quick break from Dortmund early in the second period saw Madrid’s chances of a comeback very nearly scuppered as Marco Reus picked up the ball just inside the Real half and played a ball out wide into the path of the advancing Lewandowski, who cut inside before chipping his shot over Lopez but off the underside of the crossbar and away from goal.
In an attempt to give Real Madrid more bite going forward Mourinho made two substitutions just before the hour mark, taking off the largely ineffective Higuain and replacing him with Benzema whilst Fabio Coentrao was replaced by Kaka, with the hosts switching to a back three of Essien, Ramos and Varane.
But it was Dortmund who nearly took the lead following the changes, with the Reus playing a quick one-two on the right hand side with Grosskreutz before he played it low across the face of goal into the path of Gundogan, whose drilled effort on goal forced an excellent save out of Lopez which allowed the hosts to recover.
As Angel Di Maria wasted another good opportunity to pull one back for the hosts, firing an effort across the face of goal and out in an attempt to find Benzema, despite the shot being the better option, Mourinho prepared his final substitution of the game, bringing on Sami Khedira to replace Xabi Alonso.
A glimmer of hope for Real Madrid came eight minutes from time as the hosts broke quickly down the right, with Ozil breaking down the line before firing a ball into the box towards substitute Benzema, who fire home from close range to bring the number of goals Real Madrid needed down to two.
Klopp reacted by making a defensive substitution, taking off striker Lewandowski and brining on club captain and central midfielder Sebastian Kehl as he looked to stop the onslaught from an increasingly confident Madrid side.
But Real struck again as the clock ticked down, this time it was Ramos, up for a corner who struck home, with Benzema, out left, playing it into the middle of the box into the feet of the Madrid captain who fired a driven shot past Weidenfeller, leaving the hosts needing just one goal to win progress.
Dortmund made their final substitution in stoppage time, bringing on defender Felipe Santana to replace Sven Bender, with the visitors doing just enough to see out the five added minutes and progress through to the final.