Berlin, March 9 (IANS) Gabon star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is nowadays the central figure in every Borussia Dortmund party. After scoring four goals in the last two Bundesliga games for the German football club, the 27-year- old was again the main act when his side reached the quarter-final of the Champions League after a 4-0 win over Benfica Lisbon.
His three goals on Wednesday against the Portuguese club made it obvious just how much Dortmund rely on the Gabon-born striker, reports Xinhua news agency.
Club head coach Thomas Tuchel made no secret of just how important Aubameyang is. "As I've often said before, we won't achieve our goals without Aubameyang in top form," he said.
Now 80,000 fans in Dortmund not only celebrated an "Auba" hat-trick -- and a Christian Pulisic strike -- but also a player exuding confidence. Three weeks ago, Aubameyang was almost in a state of depression after missing a penalty in his team's 0-1 first leg loss in Lisbon.
Since then his coach Tuchel has put him through a special therapy. Tuchel demanded he turn up for training with a smile on his face. More than usual, Tuchel took "the patient" aside for a chat to bolster his self-confidence.
Aubameyang was advised to score as often as he could in training. Tuchel's therapy has obviously worked. "I was desperate to prove I could do better than in Lisbon. After the game, I was so sad and I just couldn't believe what had happened," the Dortmund striker said after his Champions League goals, five, six and seven.
Aubameyang has now amassed an impressive goal tally of 28 goals in 29 games for Dortmund and is the Bundesliga's top scorer with 21 goals -- two ahead of Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski.
The Dortmund club officials are even ready to forgive his numerous antics. After Aubameyang had been partying on several occasions with his brother in Milan and Paris, he turned up with a hair-tattoo of his personal shoe supplier which was part of a recent commercial. General Manager Michael Zorc cannot have been happy as the club's kit is supplied by a different company. However as Aubameyang comes up with the goods, his escapades are no big deal.
Following the Aubameyang show, Dortmund fans fear the striker could soon be leaving the club as he is becoming more and more attractive to Europe's top clubs. Despite having a contract that runs till 2020, Aubameyang has made no secret of his desire to someday take the "next step" and join a club like Real Madrid -- his childhood favourite.
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently said that the club would be ready to negotiate when an offer comes which hasn't happened yet. Rumours have it that the Bundesliga outfit is demanding up to $75 million for its top striker.
But celebrations in Dortmund on Wednesday evening did not only take place because of Aubameyang. As the club feels comfortable being back among the big sons of European football, spectators also praised the performance of a highly talented youngster.
Pulisic not only scored a goal, which made him the youngest ever scorer in Dortmund's Champions League history. The attacking midfielder was 18 years, five months and 18 days when he struck to put his team 2-0 up against Lisbon. The US international also impressed with his passing and maturity, fitting perfectly into Dortmund's fast forwarding attacking game style.
Pulisic was given a standing ovation after his run into Lisbon's box before lobbing the goalkeeper. His coach called him "mature" and "stress resistant" after the youngster had to replace the injured Marco Reus who is most likely sidelined until the end of April.
Former Dortmund striker Stephane Chapuisat was convinced Pulisic has the talent to become world class. "He has got the potential and the talent to go very far," the Swiss said.