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Real Madrid ended the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League group stages with a 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund, despite a valiant effort and brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Borja Mayoral and Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real a quick two-goal lead, but the hosts eased off after the hot start and allowed Aubameyang to reduce the deficit before half-time. 

The Gabon international tied things up early in the second half, but Lucas Vazquez restored the lead inside the final 10 minutes. Real will qualify from their group in second place, while Dortmund head for the UEFA Europa League.

Here’s a look at the teams:

The match had an even start, but Real only allowed Dortmund a few minutes to get settled in before unleashing an enormous attacking onslaught. The defending champions, who have struggled for much of the season so far, scored two quick goals and made one of Germany’s top teams look silly in the process.

First, Mayoral easily converted after a fine move through Ronaldo and Isco, although Robbie Dunne of AS English noted BVB didn’t exactly put up much resistance:

Just minutes later, it was Ronaldo himself who doubled the advantage, after he was isolated by Mateo Kovacic―making his first start and second appearance since suffering a severe injury in September.

The Portuguese star made history in the process:

And Real weren’t finished with their assault. Casemiro drew a fine save from goalkeeper Roman Burki after a clever run, and Theo Hernandez also went close, firing narrowly wide after some beautiful passing with Ronaldo.

Dortmund also had their chances, as Aubameyang became more involved as the half wore on, but Raphael Varane had an excellent start, making several key tackles.

Real took their foot off the gas, opening the door for the visitors, but the better chances still fell to Los Blancos, with Ronaldo putting Burki to work. On the other side of the pitch, Aubameyang curled a shot wide, and he perhaps should have done better.

As shared by ESPN FC’s Stefan Buczko, BVB’s attacking hopes received a big boost shortly after:

Varane’s injury didn’t seem too serious―he talked with manager Zinedine Zidane before the decision was made to go ahead with the substitution―and as Real had already qualified, it may have simply been a precaution.

Space did open up, however, and after Mayoral missed a great chance for Real, Aubayemang pulled one back for the Germans with a cool diving header.

Buczko was impressed with the cross from Marcel Schmelzer:

And just minutes into the second half, Aubameyang tied things up, finishing in two tries after the defence left him unmarked.

Ronaldo could have doubled his tally as well but somehow failed to convert from close range after a lovely pass from Isco, and Aubameyang also wasted a great chance to grab the lead, leading to this remark from Dunne:

Theo fired another shot narrowly wide and Dani Ceballos followed suit, as Real pushed for a winner and BVB aimed for the counter. Neven Subotic made a great defensive play to deny Ronaldo and brought him down inside the box shortly after, with no penalty given.

The Portuguese star remained involved, with Burki saving his header, and Subotic almost pushed the ball in his own net after a sharp cross. 

A late winner seemed inevitable, and after Ronaldo had a goal controversially ruled out for offside, it was Vazquez who finally found a way past Burki with a clean strike into the bottom corner.

Theo nearly made it 4-2 with a wayward cross that turned into a dangerous shot, and Shinji Kagawa missed a golden chance to tie things up, blasting over. 

The result leaves Real in second place in their group, behind Tottenham Hotspur. Dortmund will head for the Europa League thanks to a better goal differential than APOEL. 

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