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article imageStuttering Dortmund advance despite 2-1 loss to Zenit

    Mar 19, 2014 in Sports

By Karolos Grohmann

DORTMUND, Germany (Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 to visitors Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday but advanced 5-4 on aggregate to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the second successive season.

Dortmund, last year's runners-up who won 4-2 in Russia in the first leg, fell a goal behind when Hulk thundered Zenit into the lead with an unstoppable long-range effort in the 16th minute.

Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl settled the hosts' nerves when he headed in the equalizer in the 38th minute.

But the visitors retook the lead in the 72nd minute through substitute Jose Rondon's diving header.

Dortmund held on in a scrappy finale and the 2-1 defeat was enough to send them into the last eight as the second German team along with Bayern Munich.

In a lively start to the game, Dortmund, who had won eight of their last nine Champions League home games, came close in the fifth minute but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's header sailed narrowly wide.

Zenit, who sacked coach Luciano Spalletti after a run of one win in 12 competitive matches and will be managed by Andre Villas-Boas from Thursday, responded a minute later with an Axel Witsel shot forcing keeper Weidenfeller to make a full-stretch save.

Brazil international Hulk did better with a thundering left-foot drive from 25 meters that left Germany international Weidenfeller with no chance and gave caretaker coach Sergei Semak something to smile about.

Dortmund, missing offensive midfielder Marco Reus among other key absences, were dealt a further blow when striker Robert Lewandowski was booked for a hand ball and he will be suspended from the quarter-final first leg.

It took time for the nervous hosts to recover but not before Oleg Shatov threatened Dortmund again with a low drive.

It was the Germans who scored before the break, however, with Kehl rising high above defender Domenico Criscito to head in a perfect Marcel Schmelzer cross from the left.

The goal meant Zenit needed another three to advance and the pressure showed in the second half with Dortmund controlling the pace.

Zenit struck against the run of play when Rondon silenced the home crowd in the 72nd minute but it was too little too late as the Russian side crashed out after only their second win in the competition this season.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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