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Soccer-Dortmund hail 'fantastic' game despite European exit

Reuters

DORTMUND, April 9 (Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund once again ripped up the predictable script of a Champions League game when they outclassed Real Madrid 2-0 and came agonisingly close to levelling the 3-0 first leg defeat in their quarter-final on Tuesday.

The Germans outran their opponents, hit the woodwork twice and have only themselves to blame for not adding at least one more goal to their tally that would have forced extra time.

Instead, it is the Spaniards who progress to the last four, having made a nervous escape from Dortmund.

"We offered an evening that will not be quickly forgotten," said defender Mats Hummels, who came close with a first half header.

"We could have written one of the biggest upsets in football history and it is a shame it was not enough. We constantly prove how much strength is in this team," he told reporters.

Last season's runners-up, who have been plagued by injuries the entire season and were missing half a dozen players on Tuesday, exit this time at the last-eight stage.

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, however, praised his players and said the team would eventually benefit from this game.

"We were so close, so close," he told reporters after two goals from Marco Reus put Dortmund in the driving seat and left error-prone Real scrambling in a daze.

"Had we scored that third goal we would have killed Real off. Once the disappointment subsides I am sure we will take something out of this game but at this moment we are first of all very sad."

Dortmund were all but written off after their 3-0 first leg defeat at the Bernabeu, chasing a tenth European Cup crown, had little to offer with top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench with a knee injury.

The Germans, with striker Robert Lewandowski back after his suspension last week, had a bagful of chances as they rode roughshod over the Spaniards, who were choking under pressure.

Dortmund's biggest chance to send the game into extra time came in the 65th minute with Henrikh Mkhitaryan rounding keeper Iker Casillas but only managing to hit the post.

"The team played outstanding football today," said Watzke. "It was a fantastic experience." (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Rex Gowar)

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