Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat-trick fired Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League quarter-finals as they beat Benfica 4-0 on Wednesday evening.
The Gabon international missed a penalty and numerous chances during a torrid first leg, but redeemed himself in the return fixture to help Dortmund beat their opponents 4-1 on aggregate.
Aubameyang opened the scoring in the fourth minute, with the game finely poised on a level aggregate score at half-time before Dortmund ran away with the game in the second half.
Christian Pulisic added a second on 59 minutes, before Aubameyang added another almost instantly afterwards and rounded off his treble with 86 minutes on the clock, with the Bundesliga outfit booking their place in the quarter-final draw on March 17.
As expected, Dortmund came racing out of the blocks at Signal Iduna Park and got the goal they needed inside four minutes. Ousmane Dembele fired a corner into the box, allowing Pulisic to flick the ball into the path of an unmarked Aubameyang at the back post, who powered his header home to get Dortmund level in the tie.
The home side kept coming in the early stages with Demeble at the centre of the action with a great run down the left wing just cut out by Nelson Semedo, before another corner from the 19-year-old was just headed over the bar by Marc Bartra.
But Benfica grew into the half and had their first chance in the 26th minute as Semedo’s cross whipped found Franco Cervi on the left-hand side but his effort was pounced on by Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki. He was in action again six minutes later as a Luisao header could only be directed into his arms.
Dortmund were fortunate to end the first-half will a full complement of players as Dembele committed two crunching fouls in the space of two minutes – both on left-back Eliseu – but was not booked for the second and given his marching orders in what was a lucky break from the home side.
With three minutes of the half to play, it was Benfica goalkeeper Ederson who was called into action as a fine Marcel Schmelzer cross met the head of Pulisic at the top of the box, but his curling effort saw the Brazilian stopper leaping across his goal to keep him out.
The visitors could have got themselves ahead on aggregate once again just minutes after the restart as another dangerous Semedo cross was sloppily cleared by Lukasz Piszczek, with the ball falling to the feet of Cervi but his shot was blocked by the Dortmund defender who atoned for his mistake, getting his body low to keep the effort at bay.
But it was two quick-fire goals from Dortmund that sealed their path to the quarter-finals, with Piszczek playing a sublime ball to Pulisic down the right of the box in the 59th minute before the American delightfully chipped over Ederson to score his first Champions League goal.
Less than two minutes later, Aubameyang got his second of the evening with a brilliant diagonal ball from Julian Weigl finding Schmelzer on the left flank before the skipper’s fierce cross was slotted home by the incoming forward to put Dortmund 3-1 ahead on aggregate and ease the tension among the home contingent.
Bartra could have added a fourth in the 84th minute as he powered a header towards goal, only to be denied by the upright but that would not be the last chance for the hosts as Aubameyang completed his hat-trick two minutes later.
In a near copycat finish of his second goal, Gonzalo Castro picked up a loose pass in the middle of the pitch before sliding Erik Durm in down the left hand side, who saw his fine cross turned home by the striker who sealed his treble with a celebratory backflip.