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Dortmund have 'a lot of issues' to address after Atalanta draw - Stoger

Peter Stoger said there were "a lot of issues" to be addressed after Borussia Dortmund's fortunate 1-1 draw away to Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday night saw them through to the round of 16 on a 4-3 aggregate.

The hosts, having two important away goals in hand from their 3-2 defeat in the first leg, struck early, with Rafael Toloi popping up at the back post to poke home a Mattia Caldara corner from close range.

Stoger, 51, told Sport 1 after the game: "Of course I'm happy that we reached the next round but after his game we have a lot of issues to address.

"We expected it to be a tough match but especially in the first half, we made it far to easy for Atalanta. We lacked aggression and physicality and did not show on the pitch what we had discussed prior to the game.

"We wanted to play an active part from the first whistle but we did not do that. We did not get into tackles nor did we pick up loose balls."

In search of a needed equaliser, the visitors struggled to create a notable scoring chance before the 81st minute as Andre Schurrle's half-volley connected with Marco Reus' pass inside the box.

Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer, left, celebrates after scoring a goal for Dortmund in the Europa League.
Marcel Schmelzer, left, celebrates after scoring a goal for Dortmund in the Europa League.

But BVB were unable to break down Atalanta's marking scheme as their build-up play lacked inspiration.

"The second half was better. The substitutions worked out," Stoger said. "I'm happy for Marcel Schmelzer to score the goal in the end. Marco Reus [brought on for the final half hour] showed that he improves our game. At least our attitude was good, as we scored late in several games now."

With time running down in the second half, Dortmund found the goal they needed after Atalanta keeper Etrit Berisha mishandled a Reus shot and Schmelzer pounced on the rebound to put the fortunate visitors up 4-3 on aggregate.

Team captain Schmelzer, who came off the bench in the second half to replace the lacklustre Jeremy Toljan at left-back, quipped after the game that he had finally scored in every competition in his career.

The left-footed 29-year-old joked: "I even scored twice with my right foot on the European stage, which not so many would have expected.

"The opponent was fully determined to make the next round, maybe it was the most important game of their entire campaign. You could definitely feel their grit. We struggled to control the game. Luckily, we only needed to only score one goal and luckily it was just enough in the end."

Dortmund will learn their round-of-16 opponent following Friday's Europa League draw.

Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.

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