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Motherwell set the stage for a thriller. Moeller strikes for Germans but Fir Park side far from out

Borussia Dortmund 1,

Motherwell 0.

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THEY were supposed to be bit players in the great, #16m Borussia roadshow, but Motherwell left the Westfalen Stadium last night with a new, hard-won and well-deserved reputation as a side of no little skill and a great deal of pride.

They face an enormous task in overcoming the single-goal defeat they suffered in this first leg of the UEFA Cup, when the teams again meet at Fir Park in a fortnight, but no-one can argue with Motherwell's right to consider themselves as live contenders for the finest win in their history.

It was, as it had to be, a team effort that helped them through against one of the most stylish sides in Europe.

In defence, apart from a few lapses in concentration which allowed Andreas Moeller to slip in and score 13 minutes after the interval, they were tremendous.

Brian Martin and Chris McCart stood rock steady under immense pressure at the start of each half, while every midfield man worked hard, none more so than Paul Lambert.

Up front, Dougie Arnott pestered Julio Cesar so much that the Germans changed round their side at half-time, switching Matthias Sammer to sweeper. And Tommy Coyne did well but he will be the first to concede that he missed the best chance of the night, long before the Germans scored.

Arnott's replacement late in the second half, Paul McGrillen, was sent off. He now will have to watch along with the rest of us as his team-mates attempt to do what many people felt was impossible, and beat Borussia. It is a tall order but it is anything but impossible now.

Yet things had looked less than bright in the opening minutes when the Germans found top gear with remarkable ease. Happily, however, Motherwell's defence held and stayed disciplined to emerge with their goal intact.

Having survived that uncomfortable opening spell, the Fir Park team began to gain ground, and suddenly the Germans looked vulnerable.

In the tenth minute, for instance, Coyne and Arnott worked well together, leaving defenders struggling before Coyne smacked the ball into the side net.

But Lambert would have been the first-half hero if he had been a little luckier when he started and almost finished a fine move, pushing the ball to John Davies who knocked it forward to Coyne. And when his low, hard cross came over, Lambert was just pipped by a defender's outstretched leg.

Sammer, who had been fouled by Davies earlier -- the Motherwell man was booked -- had the yellow card shown to him for a reciprocal foul on Davies, but overall the action was not excessively physical.

Coyne was unfortunate not to open the scoring as the Scottish team gathered momentum. Lambert sent the ball to Arnott, and although Cesar intercepted, he failed to control the ball and Arnott quickly sent Coyne clear. The striker's shot was well struck but Klos did well to put it away for a corner.

Then the best chance of all was missed by the man most likely to score, Coyne. He took the ball from Cesar, then went in on goal as Klos rushed out. The striker steered the ball around the keeper but outside a post. The sigh of relief from 34,000 home fans nearly blew up a gale.

Inevitably, Motherwell were to regret that miss. The Germans, disturbed by their weakness in defence, brought Sammer into the sweeper role and put on Poulsen for Kree. The change had an instant effect, instilling a new confidence in Borussia who forced a succession of corners, from one of which Motherwell had a narrow escape.

Riedle met the ball a few yards out but his shot was blocked by Steve Woods. However, when the ball rebounded to the head of Moeller, it looked a certain score. But he aimed the ball straight at Woods.

McCart interrupted the flow with a good header from a Rob McKinnon free kick, but in 57 minutes Moeller scored a goal of quality. Poulsen's free kick caught the Motherwell defence flat-footed for once, and Moeller sprang forward, juggled the ball on his foot, and then sent it past Woods.

After that blow Motherwell came forward with spirit and again McCart went close with a header.

In 67 minutes they gave Arnott a break, replacing him with Kirk, and soon after that Borussia brought on 17-year-old Lars Ricken for Riedle.

With 12 minutes left Motherwell tried another substitute, McGrillen for Davies, and the new man had the enterprise to attempt to lob Klos shortly after his arrival. But he was soon to depart after a two-footed tackle on Sammer which enraged the Maltese referee who showed him the red card.

Afterwards, Motherwell manager Alex McLeish said: ''I thought we did very well but I'm disappointed we didn't score here.

''I'd have been happy with a 1-0 defeat before the game but now I feel we could have taken something from it,'' he added.

BORUSSIA DORTMUND -- Klos, Reinhardt, Schmidt, Kree, Cesar, Sammer, Reuter, Zorc, Chapuisat, Moeller, Riedle. Substitutes -- de Beer, Freund, Poulsen, Franck, Ricken.

MOTHERWELL -- Woods, Shannon, McKinnon, Philliben, Martin, McCart, Lambert, Dolan, Coyne, Arnott, Davies. Substitutes -- Kirk, Allan, McGrillen, McMillan, McLeish.

Referee -- C Agius (Malta).

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