Borussia Dortmund twice came from behind as they salvaged a draw at home to Real Madrid on Tuesday. Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphaël Varane gave the visitors the advantage, only to see their goals canceled out by equalizers from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and André Schürrle. Come the final whistle, neither side could have any complaints.
The game was very even from the off, with both goalkeepers tested by early free kicks. Dortmund's Roman Bürki was on hand to keep out Ronaldo's curling effort, while Gonzalo Castro was thwarted by Keylor Navas at the other end.
From there, Dortmund generally enjoyed the lion's share of possession, and both Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembélé gave Navas cause for concern in the following few minutes. But while Dortmund were lively in attack, they struggled in defense, and only a Karim Benzema slip prevented him from taking full advantage of a one-on-one with Bürki after a quarter-of-an-hour.
Benzema's blushes were spared, as just a couple of minutes later, a cutting Madrid counter-attack culminated in the opening goal. James Rodríguez's low pass was flicked into Ronaldo's path by a smart Gareth Bale backheel, with the Portuguese attacker promptly burying the ball inside Dortmund's far post.
Undeterred, the hosts continued to play with an impressive confidence, and took the game to their visitors. But for all of their swashbuckling attacking play, it took a goalkeeping howler shortly before the interval for them to draw level. It came when a rather tame Raphaël Guerreiro free-kick was inexplicably punched by Navas, straight into the path of his teammate Raphaël Varane. The Frenchman was powerless to stop the ball bouncing back towards his own goal, with Aubameyang pouncing to prod home from point-blank range.
Despite the late setback, Madrid came out for the second half looking more imposing than they did in the first. Admittedly aided by Dortmund's tiring legs, the Spanish side saw much more of the ball, and went close to retaking the lead when Ronaldo headed a long Sergio Ramos ball wide from the edge of the six-yard box. A few minutes later a low Bale cross almost found the onrushing Benzema, though Sokratis Papastathopoulos was on hand to make a vital intervention.
However, eventually Madrid's pressure did tell, with Varane restoring Madrid's advantage with just over 20 minutes left. A short corner and subsequent cross was volleyed goalwards by Benzema, with the rebound falling very nicely for the Madrid center back in the area. He just had to poke into an empty net, and made no mistake.
From there the game got a little scrappy, with Dortmund resorting to a string of tactical fouls to prevent Madrid adding to their advantage on the counter attack. However, the risk was worth running, as with just over a couple of minutes of normal time left on the clock, the hosts found an all-important equalizer. After some penalty box pinball, a cross from the right fell kindly for substitute Schürrle. He made no mistake, lashing it beyond Navas to end the game in style.
Borussia Dortmund: Roman Bürki; Marcel Schmelzer, Matthias Ginter, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Łukasz Piszczek; Julian Weigl; Raphaël Guerreiro (Emre Mor 78'), Gonzalo Castro, Mario Götze (André Schürrle 59'), Ousmane Dembélé (Christian Pulisic 73'); Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Goals: Aubameyang (44'), Schürrle (88').
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Danilo, Sergio Ramos, Raphaël Varane, Dani Carvajal; James Rodríguez (Mateo Kovačić 70'), Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić; Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema (Álvaro Morata 89'), Gareth Bale.
Goals: Ronaldo (17'), Varane (68').
1. Dortmund's attack is a rough diamond
Dortmund's excellent start to the Bundesliga season meant we had an inkling of how good their attack can be, but Real Madrid certainly offer much firmer resistance than many of BVB's domestic rivals. However, after this game, we can safely say that Dortmund's attack is seriously talented. Though it wasn't a perfect performance -- their decision-making in the final third was occasionally a little lacking -- that's only to be expected at such an early stage of the season, and when taking into account the fact that their two wide players (and summer signings), Ousmane Dembélé and Raphaël Guerreiro, are only 19 and 22 years old respectively. Christian Pulisic and Emre Mor, 18 and 19, were just as bright after coming off the bench. Dortmund's young attack is already great, and it's only going to get better.
2. ... but they were certainly lacking in defense
Unfortunately, part of the price Dortmund paid for their attacking dominance was a compromised defense. Even when they were enjoying spells of possession deep in Madrid's half, there was always the feeling that the visitors could turn defense to attack in an instant. All too often, they did just that. The huge space in behind Dortmund's full-backs and either side of defensive midfielder Julian Weigl was gobbled up by the grateful Madrid attackers, and often forced centre-backs Ginter and Sokratis out into positions that they'd rather have avoided. BVB were unfortunate to have not scored more in the first half, but they were equally lucky Madrid only scored twice overall.
3. Keylor Navas looks rusty
This game marked Keylor Navas' first competitive appearance of the season, so perhaps he has an excuse for looking a little short of his very best. But coach Zinedine Zidane certainly wouldn't have been impressed with his first half flapping, which gifted Dortmund their equalizing goal. His mistakes bore all of the hallmarks of a keeper lacking confidence -- he too often looked to punch rather than command his area and catch -- and Madrid will be hoping he finds his nerve again as quickly as possible. When at his best, there are very few better on the planet.