DORTMUND: Thomas Tuchel hailed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s ‘sensational’ hat-trick after Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 romp at home to Benfica saw the Germans steamroll their way into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Aubameyang has now scored seven times in his last three games and has seven Champions League goals in as many matches this season.
The result saw Dortmund win 4-1 on aggregate after their 1-0 defeat in Lisbon last month.
“It was a sensational performance,” enthused Dortmund coach Tuchel.
“I love goals like his first one, because they need such good timing and Auba is always where he needs to be.”
Aubameyang’s first Champions League hat-trick was redemption after his night to forget in the first leg, when he missed four clear chances including a second-half penalty.
“We saw the real Aubameyang tonight as opposed to the first leg when I think his brother played,” quipped Tuchel.
“That was the perfect time for ‘Auba’ to get his hat-trick.
“For a goal-scorer, there is nothing more important than to score and he has a nose for goal.”
Aubameyang is on 28 goals for the season as Dortmund reached the last eight in Europe for the first time since 2014.
Aubameyang took the man-of-the-match award, but US international Christian Pulisic, who only turns 19 in September, was outstanding.
The teenager set up Aubameyang’s opening goal with just four minutes gone, then netted the crucial second on 59 minutes to put Dortmund ahead in the tie and Aubameyang added the third two minutes later
“Christian is a very self-confident person and he can draw on his potential on moments like tonight,” added Tuchel.
– ‘Exceptional performance’ –
“Along with the rest of the team, he put in an exceptional second-half performance.”
Having cancelled out Kostas Mitroglou’s first-leg goal early on, Tuchel admitted Dortmund “lost our way after 25 minutes, but the second half was a top performance.
“If I say that I expected this result it would mean that we have a lack of respect for Benfica.
“Benfica are a great, proud club and we have huge respect for them but we played two great games and I think we deserved to go through.”
The defeat ensured more German pain for Benfica, who have now lost 15 times in 23 European games away to Bundesliga clubs.
“We played well up until the point when the opponent scored two goals in quick succession,” said Benfica coach Rui Vitoria.
“We didn’t start well, conceding after only four minutes, but then we found our way.
“We had a few goal chances in the second half, but we didn’t use them and we didn’t react once they got their quick goals
“We can’t say everything was bad, the result was bad, but we played well in places and had our chances.
“We did all we could to reach the next round, we fought, but it wasn’t enough and of course, we’re sad after the result.”
Tuchel said he had no preference who his side plays in the last eight.
However, he admitted the euphoria of their victory turned into disbelief in the dressing room as the Dortmund squad watched the closing stages of Barcelona’s stunning 6-1 win over Paris St Germain.
“We watched the last two minutes of the (Barcelona-PSG) game, we thought we were the sensational news of the round, but that clearly wasn’t to be,” Tuchel said with a smile. -AFP