By DAN KARELL
The legend of Robert Lewandowski continues to grow.
On a night where Cristiano Ronaldo was expected to have the spotlight, it was Lewandowski instead who stole the show in spectacular fashion, single-handedly putting his side one step closer to the UEFA Champions League Final in London next month.
Lewandowski scored all four goals for Borussia Dortmund as they hammered Real Madrid 4-1 on Wednesday night at Signal Iduna Park in the Champions League semifinals first-leg. It’s the first time one player has scored four goals in a semifinal match, and the first time Real Madrid has ever given up at least a hat trick to an opponent in European competition.
The Poland international got Borussia on the board in just the 8th minute when he poked home a cross from teammate Mario Götze on the left wing. The hosts had a shout for a penalty in the 42nd minute, when it looked like forward Marco Reus was taken down in the box. However, the referee Bjorn Kuipers waved it off, and just 40 seconds later, it was Ronaldo who finished to level the score.
After halftime, Borussia came out with a quick tempo, and were rewarded for their attacking style when Lewandowski spun and finished from close range on a fluke shot from Reus in the 50th minute. Despite complaints from the Madrid defense, it was their defender Pepe who just kept Lewandowski onside, proving to be a good call from the linesman.
Five minutes later in the 55th minute, the 24-year-old forward completed his hat-trick with a brilliant finish in the box, shooting into the top corner past Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez. Lewandowski added his fourth in the 67th minute from the penalty spot, slamming the ball down the center before running towards the home support with four fingers held aloft.
Madrid, like Barcelona on Tuesday night, must now gather up the pieces and prepare for the second leg match on April 30 at the Bernabeu Stadium.