Borussia Dortmund survived an almighty scare in the first round of the DFB-Pokal to beat SpVgg Greuther Fürth, with Marco Reus scoring the winner in added time of extra time.
Sebastian Ernst put the Shamrocks ahead with just over ten minutes remaining of the 90, and Dortmund needed Axel Witsel to equalise in the final minute of stoppage time to send the game into extra time.
Penalties seemed inevitable until an excellent assist from Jadon Sancho to set up Reus for the winner just as the 120 minutes had elapsed, and Dortmund had just about avoided a major upset.
New-look Dortmund struggle to find their range
It was a first competitive game in charge for Lucien Favre, the third man to lead Dortmund since what was then Thomas Tuchel’s side won the Pokal just 15 months ago. New skipper Reus was preferred to Maximilian Philipp up front, Dortmund still lacking an experienced striker, whilst Abdou Diallo, Thomas Delaney and Marius Wolf were given debuts, with Witsel on the bench. Fürth have four points from the first two 2. Bundesliga games this season, and made just one change from the draw with FC Ingolstadt 04 – Maximillian Bauer replaced Richárd Magyar.
Unsurprisingly after another summer of transition, Dortmund didn’t appear at their most fluent. They could have scored just eight minutes in though. A completely unmarked Marcel Schmelzer received the ball on the far side of the post, yet despite two attempts he was denied both times by Sascha Burchert. Reus’s rebound effort was then blocked by his own team mate, before another shot from Mahmoud Dahoud went out for a corner.
Fürth did attack with promise as well, although they best chances came from range. Daniel Keita-Ruel’s attempt from outside the box posed little problem for Roman Bürki, preferred in Dortmund’s goal to Marwin Hitz. Robert Hilbert might have had him beaten though, but his strike was over the bar.
Dortmund missed multiple quick-fire opportunities again as a cross from Christian Pulisic led to a Reus shot saved, with Wolf having an effort blocked in the same passage of play as well. An excellent free-kick from Reus though was on target, by Burchert was able to get the ball over.
As the half came to a close, good work from Wolf set up Dahoud, but his run into the box was halted as Burchert claimed the ball from his feet. Delaney then got sight from goal, given the ball from the right by Pulisic, but he was the latest to misfire, shooting over. A frustrating first 45 minutes for Favre.
Witsel saves Dortmund after Ernst pounces
Damir Burić made an attacking change at the break, replacing Nik Omladič with Tobias Mohr, and his side made ever-increasing inroads into the Dortmund defence. Maximilian Wittek put a couple of good balls into the box, one just missed by Julian Green, whilst Hilbert had another shot, this time saved by Bürki.
Lukasz Piszczek would have an effort saved by Burchert in amongst that, but it was through Pulisic that they next came close. Mario Götze was blocked off in the box, but the American received the ball, found a spot from which to shot, and struck the ball into the post and wide. Manuel Akanji then disposed Keita-Ruel, helping create a superb chance for Reus, which was saved one-on-one by Burchert. The frustration just kept going on and on.
Fürth pulses were temporarily raised when Green played a great through ball to Keita-Ruel, only for the striker to be offside. Four minutes later though, it happened from there. Mohr’s cross was volleyed back into the middle by Keita-Ruel, with the ball finding Ernst, who did the rest. With less than 15 minutes remaining, Fürth were leading the four-time Pokal winners.
Philipp and Witsel were already on by that point, and Sancho quickly followed. The Englishman had their first chance to equalise, going wide after sharing a one-two with Philipp. Wolf also had a pop shortly after, but that went high into the Dortmund fans behind the goal.
With the way they were playing, and without a striker to act as a focal point, the five minutes of added time didn’t seem enough for Dortmund to find an equaliser. Somehow they got one, in the final minute of those five. A corner was cleared, but Bürki put it back in, Reus found Witsel, and the Belgian new arrival immediately began to pay back his transfer fee by scoring, sending the game into extra-time.
Dortmund leave it late again in extra time
As so often happens, the start of extra time felt like a phoney war before the real battle of a penalty shootout. Both sides made use of their fourth substitution to bring on some fresh legs yet they had little effect. Fürth had the chances in the first 15 minutes, the best falling to Lukas Gugganig, his shot on the turn saved by Bürki, who held it before Elias Abouchabaka could pounce.
Dortmund, having used their lifeline, looked bereft of energy and ideas, more than happy to play for penalties. They had to wait until after the break to see sight of goal again, with Philipp crowded out before giving an easy save to Burchert. Fürth showed greater energy when Keita-Ruel’s header left Fabian Reese through on goal, but Bürki came to the rescue to make the save.
When Philipp headed wide from a Reus free-kick with three minutes to go, penalties loomed. But yet again, Dortmund struck at the latest possible opportunity. Sancho dribbled his way into the box, cutting back for Reus who beat Burchert with a composed finish as the clocked ticked past 120 minutes.
There was still time for Fürth to press for an equaliser, with a corner dealt with before Hilbert put one last shot wide after a Piszczek error. But that was that, and Dortmund were somehow through to the second round, avoiding the fate of fellow Bundesliga sides Eintracht Frankfurt and VfB Stuttgart. But it was an almighty effort from their hosts.