Borussia Dortmund grounded out a narrow 1-0 victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach to move up to second in the Bundesliga, for 24 hours at least.
A wonderfully-worked goal was finished by Marco Reus, around half-an-hour in, yet the Foals registered four times as many shots over the 90 minutes, with Roman Bürki delivering one of his best performances of the season.
Dortmund must wait until RB Leipzig play on Monday to see if they finish the weekend second, whilst Gladbach remain stuck in tenth place after just one win in 2018 so far.
Reus finishes stunning goal before Vestergaard denied
Without a point or a goal in three matches, under pressure Dieter Hecking made three changes, with Yann Sommer, Reece Oxford and Raúl Bobadilla starting in place of Tobias Sippel, Tony Jantschke and Vincenzo Grifo. Despite appearing from the bench in the 1-0 defeat to VfB Stuttgart last week, Raffael was again unavailable. Things are going better for Dortmund, with three wins in a row including in the UEFA Europa League against Atalanta on Thursday. Manuel Akanji and Mario Götze were added to the side that played game, Ömer Toprak and Christian Pulisic making way.
The pitch at Borussia-Park was in awful condition, with both sets of players struggling to keep their feet early on. Dortmund did start brightly, seemingly in control in the opening ten minutes, however it was Gladbach, playing better than last weekend, that had the first chance. On the counter, Jonas Hofmann found Lars Stindl, who manages to beat Julian Weigl with the help of a lucky deflection off the Dortmund man. Bürki was able to make the save. Bobadilla also had a shot, but from a tight angle he went wide.
Otherwise it was a struggle to get shots away with the pitch cutting up, as André Schürrle found out on one opportunity. However he played his in a wonderfully-worked goal for Dortmund. Götze found him on the left with a sublime diagonal ball. He then decided to pick out Reus on the opposite side, and he hit the ball with dip over the head of Sommer and in off the underside of the bar to score his first goal of the season against his former club for a sixth time.
Three minutes before half-time and the Foals thought they were level. A free-kick from Thorgan Hazard was headed out of the box only for Stindl to play it back in. In a crowded box, Bobadilla just got a touch ahead of Akanji – vitally, as it would turn out – to set up Jannik Vestergaard who put the ball in. However, he had been standing in an offside position throughout that passage, and he knew it, with VAR eventually overruling the decision, as Bobadilla had made the final touch before he scored.
Gladbach’s fans – indeed, even Dortmund’s fans – were not happy at another intervention from video technology, and neither was Hecking too impressed. Nevertheless Hazard could have had them ahead for real before the break, shooting wide with half the goal to aim at. A couple of promising Dortmund attacks came to little too, as the retained their narrow advantage at the break.
Gladbach with all the chances but fail to score again
Gladbach built on that late momentum after the break, with several half chances, before they came very close to finally levelling. Stindl was struggling to break his 11-game scoring drought, going wide on a couple of occasions, but a shot from distance was saved by Bürki, albeit parried straight into the path of Bobadilla. He did well at the striker’s feet to stop him making the cleanest of connections, although Sokratis still had to clear it on the line.
After five goals in his first five games for Dortmund, Michy Batshuayi was struggling to get into this game, with one opportunity that did come to him going wide. From a corner situation shortly after, he then had a shot blocked by Oxford, but unfortunately for the English teenager the ball went to Reus. He shot on target, but Sommer put the ball over.
Further openings would follow though for the home side. Stindl again missed out, denied this time by Bürki after connecting with a Bobadilla cross. A free-kick from the left from Hazard was then excellently placed, with Nico Elvedi meeting it with his head, but it bounced into the ground and Bürki could punch away. Dortmund’s keeper was needed again then to keep out a couple of shots for Bobadilla, hit straight at him.
There would be few other chances for them after that, having ended up clocking up 28 of them over the course of the 90 minutes (compared with just seven for Dortmund), although there were appeals for penalties on two occasions following corners, with the ball unintentionally striking the arm of Batshuayi, before in stoppage time Sokratis held back Vestergaard as the ball came in.
Dortmund clung on, perhaps against all the odds, to remain unbeaten in eight Bundesliga games under Stöger – a club record – although they will have to wait until Leipzig play Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday night to see whether they finishing the weekend in second or third. Gladbach’s awful run continues, leaving Hecking under pressure and wondering whether to be looking up or down the table.
Sunday's other Bundesliga result
FC Augsburg 0-1 VfB Stuttgart (0-1, Gómez 27')