Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund cancelled each other out in a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Both teams went into the final Group F clash knowing they had qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, but anything less than a win for Los Blancos would mean they would not finish top of the group.
Los Merengues took the lead through a Karim Benzema tap in just before the half hour mark.
Benzema doubled his tally 10 minutes into the second half with a fierce header from James Rodriguez’s whipped left-footed cross.
But it did not take long for Dortmund to claw their way back into the game.
Julian Weigl was afforded time on the ball, and picked out a sublime diagonal pass to Marcel Schmelzer down the left wing, who calmly laid the ball off to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to tap home his 19th goal in his last 17 games across all competitions.
Dortmund equalised with minutes to go when Emre Mor played a sumptuous pass in behind Sergio Ramos from deep to Aubameyang. The Real Madrid captain couldn’t recover and the Gabonese forward squared for Marco Reus to smash in the equaliser from close range.
It was a disappointing collapse for the home side. Not only conceding a two goal advantage for the second time in this group stage, but also because they had had the opportunities to further bury their opponents.
Before taking the lead, Lucas Vazquez had found Cristiano in the box, who had a fabulous first touch and rolled the ball forward to James, but Roman Weidenfeller stood tall to block the Colombian’s effort.
The warning signs had been there for most of the game, though.
Early on, Schmelzer had pulled the ball across the box, Varane managed to get his toe to it, but it fell for Schurrle. Fortunately for Real, he blazed over.
And after the opening goal, Dortmund still came back like Rocky Balboa.
Schurrle’s powerful free kick went through a flimsy Madrid wall, but Keylor Navas was across and met it superbly to deny the German attacker.
Then, Real were nearly caught on counter. Castro flashed ball across the six yard box but Aubameyang couldn’t latch on to the pass.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first.
Dortmund had a few jabs, but couldn’t land a heavy blow. Real jinked and slipped the jabs, before managing to land their second big blow.
And it came from a header as Benzema met a superb cross from James, which was his 7th assist of the season (more than any other Real Madrid player).
Dortmund soon equalized, but still the home side had chances to stave off any whiff of a comeback.
Lucas Vázquez caused problems when he danced in-between the retreating Dortmund defenders. The ball fell loose to Ronaldo, whose effort was well saved by Weidenfeller.
From the resulting corner, Benzema again powered a header goalwards, but it was cleared off the line by Marco Reus.
Moments later, Lucas was involved again, when he delicately dinked the ball across for Ronaldo - CR7’s first touch set him perfectly but his finish hit the base of the post.
You felt that third goal would have saw Dortmund throw the towel in, but their resilience was rewarded late into the game when Reus beat the on-rushing Navas to Aubameyang’s perfect squared pass.
And so Los Merengues finish second in the group, and could face the likes of Arsenal, Napoli, or Juventus in Monday’s knockout stage draw.