Manchester United transfer target Jules Kounde’s mistake that led to Erling Braut Haaland‘s first of two goals for Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night was not one that a “top-class centre-back” would make, according to Owen Hargreaves.
Dortmund won possession after Kounde ran forward out of position and was bundled out of the way by Thomas Delaney, leaving a gap in behind him.
That allowed Nico Schulz to burst forward and find Mo Dahoud, who played Marco Reus into the box. The Dortmund captain got the by-line before pulling back to Haaland, another United transfer target, to tap in.
France under-21 international Kounde is on United’s radar for the summer transfer window as they seek to sign a new central defender to partner Harry Maguire.
Kounde was also previously wanted by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and despite struggling up against Haaland is highly rated across Europe.
But Peter Crouch labelled Kounde’s decision that led to the first Dortmund goal was “ridiculous” while ex-United midfielder Hargreaves also hit out at the 22-year-old centre-back.
Crouch said at half-time on BT Sport: “Sevilla started the game very, very well. They didn’t create clear-cut chances but they certainly had the better of the game.”
Told that Haaland scored from his only touch in the Sevilla box, he continued: “It’s amazing isn’t it?
“Dortmund just stepped up the press. Kounde, I’m not sure where he’s going there. Owen said it off air, it was ridiculous.
“The movement was fantastic, fantastic ball through, Reus with the very clever cut-back. I’m really not sure where the centre-half is going, asking for possession in that [area].
“Delaney just stepped up the press, he was stronger than him and it was quick, incisive passing and one chance for Haaland, one goal.”
Hargreaves added: “It helps when one of the centre-backs vacates the space where he needs to be. Diego Carlos was in there on his own.
“Credit Haaland, he checked back and gets a simple tap-in from Reus. That’s a good combination. Haaland is just a one-man wrecking crew.
“It just shows you, you make mistakes and you get punished. They make a poor mistake. Kounde goes into an area to receive the ball, you don’t do that as a top-class centre-back.
“Stay in that back four. One mistake and they got punished.”
Crouch was then told that Tottenham striker Harry Kane managed 20 Champions League goals in 24 games while Haaland was one away, at half time, having managed 19 in 14 games.
The former Liverpool striker laughed and said: “It’s crazy. These numbers just keep getting better and better.
“There’s no sign of it stopping. Credit to his team-mates for the goal. It looks like a tap-in, an easy finish, but it’s all about the movement beforehand.
“It’s similar to his goal against Bayern Munich [at the weekend], he just sniffs out a chance and has the pace and the movement and the cleverness of thought.”
Kounde was ran ragged again by Haaland in the second half, the Norwegian scoring to make it 2-0 to Dortmund from the penalty spot – though not without drama.
The 20-year-old scored his 20th Champions League goal but was adjudged to have fouled Diego Carlos before finding the back of the net.
That saw the goal ruled out but the game was pulled back to an incident in which Kounde fouled Haaland inside the box, pulling the striker’s shirt.
A penalty was awarded but Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was equal to Haaland’s effort from 12 yards and his follow-up.
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Yet the Moroccan was rightly ruled to have left his line in saving the spot-kick and the penalty was taken, with Haaland going for the same corner but this time scoring.
Haaland taunted Bounou in his celebration, running up to the keeper to scream in his face, much to the annoyance of his Sevilla team-mates, who chased the striker down as he ran off to celebrate.
That made it 5-2 on aggregate before Emre Can conceded a penalty with 22 minutes to go which Youssef En-Nesyri scored from at the Signal Iduna Park.
Sevilla made it 5-4 deep into stoppage time after En-Nesyri scored with a header to cause late Dortmund panic but they held on for a 2-2 draw which booked their spot in the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2016-17.
The draw for the Champions League’s last eight will be conducted on Friday March 19 once all the last 16 ties are concluded.