DORTMUND – Borussia Dortmund eased into the last 16 of the Champions League with a goalless draw at home to Brugge on Wednesday, but Axel Witsel suffered a knee injury for the Bundesliga leaders.
After leaders Atletico Madrid had earlier secured their last 16 passage from Group A with a 2-0 win against Thierry Henry's Monaco, second-placed Dortmund got the point they needed to also reach the knock-out stages.
However, the draw may have come at a price as Dortmund's Belgium midfielder Witsel limped off with a knee injury in the dying stages.
Brugge cannot now qualify and will go into the knock-out stages of the Europa League with a guaranteed third place.
Dortmund can still win the group, if they beat Monaco away in a fortnight and Atletico fail to beat Brugge in Madrid in the final round of matches.
“We had two big first-half chances and then things got more and more difficult - we just couldn't find the gaps,” said Dortmund sports director Michael Zorc. “But qualifying for the last 16 was the priority.”
Dortmund dominated at Signal Iduna Park, enjoying 75 percent possession and making nearly three times as many passes as the Belgians, but there were precious few clear chances for either side.
Captain Marco Reus squandering Dortmund's best first-half chance when he fired millimetres wide with half an hour played, then Raphael Guerreiro had a shot snuffed out.
Dortmund's fleet-footed attack combined at the start of the second-half and repeatedly came within a whisker of scoring.
Their hot-shot striker Paco Alcacer had a shot saved by Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath straight after the break.
Then the Spaniard played Reus into the area to square for Christian Pulisic, the scorer of Dortmund's winner at Brugge in September, but defender Brandon Mechele snuffed the threat out.
As the clock ticked down, Dortmund grew increasingly impatient with Horvarth thwarting several attacks with Reus repeatedly in the thick of the action.
English teenager Jadon Sancho came on for the final 20 minutes to try and break the deadlock.
The Dortmund defence started to live dangerously and allowed Brugge midfielder Emmanuel Bonaventure to fire wide of the Roman Buerki's goal with 16 minutes left.
Dortmund's best late chance came when Reus' pin-point pass found Sancho, who squared for Alcacer, who could not add to his 10 goals on his tenth appearance for Dortmund.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)