LISBON • Having made it to at least the knockout round of every Champions League season since 2016-17, Wednesday's elimination was a bitter pill to swallow for Borussia Dortmund.
Pedro Goncalves netted twice as Sporting Lisbon beat the 10-man German side 3-1 on Wednesday to reach the last 16 and end the visitors' hopes of progressing.
The hosts got the two-goal winning margin they needed to reach the knockout phase for the first time since the 2008-2009 season behind Group C winners Ajax.
While Dortmund have kept pace with leaders Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, they have sorely missed Erling Haaland in Europe since the striker picked up a hip injury last month, which is set to rule him out until the new year.
After losing three Champions League games for the first time, the away side, who were also missing Thorgan Hazard, rued their inability to defend properly.
"They were more consistent and uncompromising in the decisive situations," said Dortmund coach Marco Rose. "We conceded goals too easily and made too many mistakes."
On dropping into the Europa League, captain Marco Reus added: "We are discussing the same mistakes we keep making. Even with 10 (men), we were better than Sporting were. They did little but still won 3-1. It was a terrible evening. We are eliminated and that is the bitter truth."
Things got off to a bad start for Dortmund as they lost Raphael Guerreiro to injury in the warm-up and his replacement Nico Schulz misjudged a long ball, allowing Goncalves to pounce.
The Portugal midfielder took advantage of another defensive blunder, seizing on Manuel Akanji's poor clearance to fire home from the edge of the area.
Emre Can replaced the hapless Schulz after the break, only to be shown a straight red for fouling Pedro Porro and Dan-Axel Zagadou added to the catalogue of errors by kicking Paulinho in the box.
Goncalves was denied his hat-trick from the spot, but Porro was on hand to score from the rebound and Donyell Malen's consolation goal in stoppage time was too little, too late.
It has been quite the turnaround for Sporting, who in September were bottom of the group on zero points after two games.
However, Goncalves has led by example with 10 goals in all competitions this season, continuing the form that saw him bag 23 for the Portuguese champions last term.
Sporting coach Ruben Amorim said: "We're in the round of 16 and it's great, it's good for the project, but we still have a lot to do.
"It was an incredible atmosphere, in a game where we knew how to take our moments. Pedro scored the goals but the others played a great game, gave everything."