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Fullkrug’s strike grants Dortmund early UCL advantage over PSG

Forward Niclas Fullkrug secured a narrow lead for Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League semifinal against Paris Saint-Germain with a first-half goal, clinching a 1-0 victory in Wednesday’s first leg.

Fullkrug, known for his opportunistic play, capitalized on a chance in the 36th minute, marking Dortmund’s hopeful return to the final since their 1997 victory.

Despite PSG’s Kylian Mbappe hitting the post with a second-half attempt, Dortmund held on, setting the stage for an exciting second leg at the Parc des Princes next Tuesday.

Bayern Munich drew 2-2 with record winners Real Madrid in the first semifinal first leg on Tuesday.

Dortmund is in their first Champions League semifinal since 2013, when they progressed to an all-German final at Wembley, which they lost to Bayern. This season’s final is also at the famed London stadium, and a repeat pairing is still possible.

Their win also meant Germany will get an extra place in the expanded Champions League next term based on coefficients. Dortmund is fifth in the Bundesliga so would currently take that additional spot.

“That was a classic team display. I think we delivered a super performance. It was very grown up,” Dortmund defender and man-of-the-match Mats Hummels told DAZN.

PSG, who failed to win the big prize by recruiting big names such as Neymar and Lionel Messi, have switched focus to a more organic business model with younger players but now face a tough second leg.

They lost to Bayern in their only final in 2020 when ex-Dortmund coach and current Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel was their boss.

“We’re very sad about the result. We missed chances in the second half,” PSG defender Achraf Hakimi told Canal Plus. “At home, it will be different with our supporters in our stadium. That’s for sure. We’ll be full of confidence for the second leg.”

Luis Enrique went with the same PSG side that eliminated his ex-team Barcelona in the last round, with left back Nuno Mendes fit to play, while Dortmund was also as expected.

A febrile atmosphere inside Signal Iduna Park prompted a frenetic start to the game, but chances were at a premium. PSG winger Ousmane Dembele fired wide early on against his former side, and Dortmund’s Marcel Sabitzer had an effort saved.

The pace then slowed slightly until the crowd burst into life again when Fullkrug sprang the offside trap after a ball over the top and controlled superbly before striking low inside the near post.

The Germany striker also missed two chances after the break to sum up a mixed first season at Dortmund, but he has scored key goals in the Champions League, including a superb header in the quarterfinal win over Atletico Madrid.

Hakimi – also previously on the books of the Germans – had a torrid time on Dortmund’s left against Karim Adeyemi, who almost helped set up Sabitzer for a second.

Mbappe, set to leave the recently crowned French champions on a free in July with Madrid a likely destination, struggled to get into the game in the first half as Dortmund ran 5 kilometers more than PSG.

But he hit the post early in the second period, and teammate Hakimi also struck the woodwork straight afterward.

The visitors threatened to dominate the rest of the half as Dortmund dropped too deep at times, Fabian Ruiz heading wide twice and Dembele seeing a close-range shot saved while later blasting over.

But the Black and Yellows managed to hold on against a side who have only lost once in Ligue 1 this term.

“We had some luck at times, but I think we deserved to win,” said Dortmund coach Edin Terzic.

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