Borussia Dortmund came up short, but that's no disgrace against this Real Madrid side
The weaknesses in this Borussia Dortmund side were ruthlessly exposed on Tuesday night. But there's little shame in being beaten by the best side in the world and, even in another Champions League loss, there's hope.
The Südtribüne was rocking as Borussia Dortmund steeled themselves to complete the comeback against Real Madrid on Tuesday night. After a string of misses from presentable chances, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poked one home to pull his side back to within a goal of the champions.
The men in yellow and black went hard at their opponents - Carvajal denied Mario Götze with an excellent last-ditch tackle before Aubameyang almost clipped in Götze's left-wing cross, and the crowd sensed a first Champions League point of the season was there for the taking.
They were wrong. About 10 minutes after that effort, Luka Modric found a pocket of space in between Dortmund's lines and the Croatian conductor, as always, found not only the right pass but the right weight and the right timing. After Modric's surgical scissors came Ronaldo's sledgehammer, as the Portuguese force of nature slammed a shot inside Roman Bürki's near post.
Roman Bürki was beaten at the near post for Real's third
The strike was true but Bürki's positioning was once again questionable. The Swiss keeper, who otherwise performed well, was beaten from similar angles twice against Spurs in Dortmund's matchday 1 loss and it was tough not to compare Bürki's display with Manuel Neuer's against the same opponents earlier this year, when Zinedine Zidane was moved to label the Bayern Munich keeper "a wall."
Dortmund have been domestically dominant this season but in both their matches at the very top level they've been found wanting in the critical moments. They matched Real Madrid for shots and pass success and had more possession in a game that ebbed and flowed without ever being one-sided for very long.
But at the crucial moments in both boxes they were lacking. Aubameyang didn't miss any sitters but also wasn't as clinical as Ronaldo or Gareth Bale, and Bürki's anticipation left something to be desired when it mattered most.
Real Madrid rarely come up short in any situation. The first side to win back-to-back Champions League trophies in the competition's history are a beautifully-balanced outfit fast becoming one of the best units ever to play the game.
"Today it was quite clear, Real was much better than Dortmund, they deserved to win," said BVB coach Peter Bosz after the match. "To me that was clear already during the game.
"They have big quality, not only Ronaldo, the whole team. They have fantastic players, they move the ball around so easily and if you're not pressing well it becomes really dangerous."
But Bosz also added that Dortmund "lost right" and the club's early progress under their Dutch coach should not be undermined by two European defeats. Sometimes you just have to accept the oppostion are better. Tuesday was one of those times.