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Dortmund vs PSG result: Erling Haaland's brute force gains upper hand in Champions League tie

It wasn’t so much an arrival as an announcement: Erling Braut Haaland already looks more comfortable at this level than Paris Saint-Germain.

The sensational 19-year-old may well have gone some way to ensuring the French champions fall at the last-16 stage of the Champions League for the fourth year in a row, after two very different goals, to single-handedly prove the difference in this 2-1 Borussia Dortmund win.

The tie remains tight, but Haaland has shown he can maximise the barest of openings with brute force and so much more.

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You certainly wouldn’t have thought this was his first game at such a stage, or by far the biggest game of his career so far. You certainly would have thought, however, this was one of those matches where a star’s career was truly launched; that this was their moment.

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria instead spent much of the game looking like the novices, bar one spark that brought the away goal that could yet prove so crucial to this tie.

It may yet ensure PSG finally get past this stage, that they have far too much experience of. They have to learn from it, and how to finally get past it. To do that, however, they’ll have to learn how to stop Haaland.

The quirk was that the Norwegian had started this game somewhat slowly – well, in terms of his impact. Not his actual speed.

There was one early moment that suggested what was to come, even if it also suggested some of the remaining issues in this young Dortmund side. They’re not fully in sync.

They are still exhilarating when at full pelt, mind. That was very much the case in the first half when Sancho picked up the ball in his own half and Haaland – having of course won the header in the first place – made it up the length of the pitch in a matter of seconds.

It was breathtaking. The Norwegian was so fast that he put himself in an opportune position, onside and straight in on goal. It was also a little too brilliant. Illustrating a lingering lack of connection in this attack, Sancho decided to keep carrying the ball himself only to run into difficulty. That was the story of many promising Dortmund attacks, as they ended in the wrong option.

It should be added in all this that Haaland isn’t yet the complete article himself. There is still an occasional raggedness to his touch, which he often looks to compensate for with pure brute force. That is of course entirely natural given he’s still only 19 and this was by far the biggest game of his career so far. That made what was to come all the more sensational.

It isn’t all about force either. It can’t be when Haaland scores so many close-range finishes. That is no coincidence, or quirk. It is a consequence of a striker’s instinct. He does seem to have that natural striker’s knack of knowing where to go. So it was with that 69th-minute strike, as he found himself following in from a Keylor Navas parry to pounce.

Haaland fires in Dortmund's second goal (Getty)

The game had its break. PSG had their provocation. Their own attackers finally lifted it. They had spent much of the game being crowded out, or pushed back, especially by the excellent Axel Witsel. Neymar got so frustrated at one point he seemed set to elbow the midfielder, only to think better of it. That was a sign of how good Witsel had been. Neymar’s sudden composure might yet be crucial in the tie.

The same could apply to what followed. Mbappe finally found space on the right, and swiftly swept a ball across the box. There was Neymar, still on the pitch and thereby in the box, to finish.

The expectation was that would finally be lift-off for a much more experienced, much more expensive PSG side. It instead brought an explosion from the most inexperienced player on the pitch – but undeniably the man of the match.

This was brute force, and then some. Haaland displayed absolutely no concern for the stage, the opposition or the net. He almost broke them all.

He has broken up this tie. He’s shown PSG what to do at this level. They, once again, have to raise it.

They’re not just facing their own mental demons about this stage any more, though. They’re facing the physical power of Haaland.