Borussia Dortmund’s hopes for a top four finish in the Bundesliga were dealt a blow as they fell to defeat against fellow Champions League hopefuls Borussia Monchengladbach.
In a frantic game at Borussia-Park, the score was 2-2 after only half an hour before a disciplined second half performance from the hosts saw them triumph 4-2.
Only a point separated seventh-placed Gladbach and fourth-placed Dortmund ahead of the game, with Marco Rose’s side ending their 11-game losing run against the Black & Yellows with victory in an entertaining game to start Matchday 18 on Friday night.
The ball was back in the net after just 43 seconds. Jonas Hofmann won the ball from Jude Bellingham on the edge of Dortmund’s 18 yard box before he slipped in Florian Neuhaus, whose shot found the top corner. However, following a lengthy VAR review, the goal was disallowed for a foul on the English midfielder.
The start of the game was far from normal, with players finding themselves in plenty of space and almost every attack seemed like it might end in a goal. Hofmann latched onto a ball from Neuhaus and forced Roman Burki into a superb save to his right after six minutes, but the keeper was powerless to prevent the hosts breaking the deadlock.
Hofmann was the provider, whipping in a brilliant free-kick from the right hand side which picked out the unmarked Nico Elvedi who headed home from ten yards. However, there was to be another lengthy VAR delay before it was confirmed Elvedi was indeed onside.
After fifteen minutes, four minutes had already been lost to VAR checks – something the league will need to look at moving forwards.
Having gone behind, Dortmund got themselves back on level terms through their first meaningful attack. Raphael Guerreiro won the ball back from Alexander Plea on the half way line and immediately picked out Jadon Sancho, who surged into the middle and fed Erling Haaland. With plenty still to do, the Norwegian provided a precise finish to lift the ball over Yann Sommer and find the far corner from a tight angle to make it 1-1.
The visitors almost took the lead four minutes later, as Manuel Akanji’s effort following a corner drew a spectacular save from Sommer and Lars Stindl made an even more spectacular intervention on the line to head Emre Can’s follow-up onto the upright and away to safety.
BVB turn game around
However, the goal came soon afterwards when Bellingham intercepted the ball. The 17-year old linked up with Marco Reus and then Sancho in close confines within the Gladbach box and the move was finished off by Haaland, who received the ball with his back to goal, turned on a sixpence and fired home with his deadly left foot.
The lead lasted barely four minutes, though. Burki was at fault as he could not gather Stindl’s low free kick from outside the area and Elvedi was the only one following the shot in and he had a tap in.
Despite that, Dortmund continued to push before half time, with Sommer saving Mats Hummels’ header before Sancho missed by a matter of centimetres after being teed up by Reus.
Like in the first half, Gladbach made a quick start to the second period and again struck early, only this time VAR wasn’t to deny them.
Hosts back in front
Left-back Ramy Bensebaini pushed forward and received the ball from Neuhaus just outside the box, before he turned away from Julian Brandt and curled the ball with his weaker foot beyond Burki and into the far corner, despite Guerreiro’s effort to clear off the line.
Rose’s men switched formations having gone back in front, and they remained focussed on not replicating their mistakes at the back from the opening half. As such, their ventures forward came few and far between.
Akanji's slip allowed Hofmann to come forward with the ball and he slipped in Plea, but a great challenge from Bellingham put the striker under pressure and he could only side foot his effort wide of the post.
Dortmund found opportunities limited, but went close to drawing level once again after 74 minutes. Substitute Gio Reyna found Guerreiro on the left hand side of the area and he saw his powerful effort beaten away by Swiss keeper Sommer.
But that didn’t stop Gladbach from extending their lead with twelve minutes to go. Neuhaus whipped in a corner and picked out substitute Marcus Thuram, who met it in plenty of space to head home and make it 4-2.
The goal was a knockout blow for Dortmund, with only sub Youssoufa Moukoko forcing Sommer into a save and crosses from Reyna and Moukoko failing to bring the Black & Yellows back into the game as a disciplined second half performance from Monchengladbach saw them run out deserved winners.