Determined De Bruyne once again makes the difference to give Manchester City a valuable lead over Dortmund

The Belgian playmaker scored the opener and had a big hand in the winner as Pep Guardiola’s side triumphed 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: Match statistics

Kevin De Bruyne knows all about Champions League heartbreak but is determined to do everything in his power to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

After five European outings during his stint at Manchester City, the 29-year-old is aiming to overtake the quarter-finals for only the second time.

If they want to pass an exciting Borussia Dortmund side to Germany in eight days, City will reflect on the fact that the Belgian was the main reason they finished the first leg with a slim 2-1 advantage.

De Bruyne scored the opener and then provided the murderous pass that led to the winner Phil Foden in the 90th minute.

Their Champions League hopes are on edge again after Marco Reus’s away goal, but the late goal at least changed the mood of the game.

It was only fitting that De Bruyne should have been decisive in death. He was the driving force for City throughout and ruthlessly punished Dortmund’s only major mistake to give the hosts a 19th-minute lead.

Emre Can’s bad pass was cut off and 13 seconds later the ball was in the net, with De Bruyne leading the charge in Dortmund’s defense before finishing Riyad Mahrez’s cross.

The Belgium international now has five goals in his last five games and is clearly reveling in an even freer role, Guardiola sticking to the scorerless system that has been so successful domestically.

This time around, there could be no suggestion that the city boss was overthinking his tactics – an accusation leveled at him after previous Champions League outings.

This was probably his strongest alignment with the usual unorthodox “gadgets” that have now become the norm: Joao Cancelo functioning as an inverted left-back; and De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan alternately as the false nine.

In fact, it was his counterpart Edin Terzic who took the big surprise out of the selection, the BVB boss giving 19-year-old Ansgar Knauff his first start for the first team, although the youngster was well closed by the experienced Kyle Walker.

Erling Haaland, meanwhile, was a scarier proposition for the home side’s defense, given he had scored 33 goals in his previous 32 games for Dortmund.

Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City Borussia Dortmund Champions League GFX

Linked to City, as well as all the big clubs in Europe, it was a timely opportunity for the Norway international to show his quality at the Etihad stadium.

Haaland looked like he ruined his one big chance when he slipped away from Ruben Dias on time to be denied by a smart save from Ederson, but with six minutes remaining he highlighted his class by sending brilliantly the ball on the trajectory of Reus. , who scored a crucial away goal.

As Foden and De Bruyne nearly doubled the hosts’ early lead, the equalizer was deserved, especially after Jude Bellingham’s first-half strike was wrongly ruled out. Indeed, for once, the controversial arbitration decisions went in City’s favor.

Guardiola has never openly criticized officials following his side’s exit in the past three seasons, but he’s also quick to remind people of the handball goal they cost them against Tottenham, the two wrongly denied goals against Liverpool and the second crucial which was allowed to hold. for Lyon last season.

This time, fortune smiled on City when referee Ovidiu Hategan wrongly penalized Bellingham for a foul on Ederson after taking the ball away from the city keeper, and the Romanian official again made a mistake by whistling before the ball does not roll over the line, which means the decision. could not be canceled by VAR.

Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, back in Germany missing from injury, brazenly tweeted “This referee needs to be checked!”

The ref at least canceled what would have been another terrible call. He initially awarded City a penalty for a Can foul on Rodri, but reruns showed the Spaniard faked being punched in the face.

Ties can be swung on small margins and this tie is now gently laid. City may need a goal in Germany to progress, but with De Bruyne in the camp, City know they have a player who can still score or create one.

In a team full of stars, he remains their difference maker.