Borussia Dortmund’s top four dreams live on for another game as Die Schwarz-Gelben defeated Werder Bremen 4-1 at the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday.
Bremen actually took the lead through Milot Rashica, but a thunderous strike from Giovanni Reyna tied things up about 15 minutes later. A brace before the half-time break from Erling Haaland effectively sealed the result, and Mats Hummels was able to finish off the scoring with a headed goal late on.
It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but it was enough for Dortmund to secure all three points on the day.
Story of the match
The game quickly developed a distinct pattern, as Dortmund controlled possession while Bremen sat back and looked to hit on the counter. The latter were the ones who created the first chance through Leonardo Bittencourt, whose shot from distance was saved by Marwin Hitz.
The away side would take the lead in the 13th minute against the run of play. Route one football at it’s finest, Maximilian Eggestein played Milot Rashica in behind the defense with an excellent through ball, and the Kosovo international did the rest, slotting home past the goalkeeper.
Dortmund nearly equalized moments later. A loose ball following a corner fell to Julian Brandt, but his volley flew just wide of the target.
They were able to level the scoring near the half-hour mark, though. Coming somewhat out of nowhere, Giovanni Reyna got the ball on the edge of the area before absolutely unleashing a rocket of a shot that flew into the back of the net.
Die Schwarz-Gelben took the lead themselves just minutes after. A strange tackle from Kevin Möhwald took out Marco Reus in the area, leaving the referee with no other choice than to point to the spot. Erling Haaland stepped up and dispatched the resulting penalty kick, ending his goalscoring drought in the process.
Bremen’s capitulation continued, and they conceded a third before the break. A turnover in midfield led to a counter for Dortmund, which ended when a loose ball bounced right to Haaland at the back post for an easy tap-in.
Reus had two chances to make it four early on in the second half. His first effort was saved well by Pavlenka, before another attempt from the edge of the area sailed just wide of goal.
The away side nearly got back into the game, as some excellent work from Josh Sargent led to Eggestein driving forward on the break. He went for goal from the edge of the area, but his left-footed effort hit the post instead of nestling into the bottom corner.
They kept up the pressure, and two chances fell to Sargent in quick succession. He made a mess of the first by skying a volley, but he did better with the second, hitting a low shot that had to be saved by Hitz.
Bremen really should’ve halved the deficit when a deflected cross flew to Davie Selke at the backpost. His header was a poor one, though, as the ball bounced off the ground and over the crossbar. Haaland then had a chance to seal the result on the other end of the pitch, but he couldn't convert either.
The Norwegian thought he had completed his hat-trick moments later. Powering a header from a whipped-in free-kick into the back of the net, the goal would correctly be ruled off when the sideline official’s flag went up for offside.
The bottling of opportunities continued, as Reyna then somehow headed the ball over the crossbar from just a few yards out after some superb work from Thorgan Hazard.
Dortmund finally found their fourth with about five minutes to go. Mats Hummels rose highest to head a corner towards goal, and Bremen made a meal of it, as Pavlenka and Theodor Gebre Selassie bumped into each other before the ball snuck past both of them and into the back of the net.
That proved to be the last major moment of the contest, as the hosts held on to clinch an important win.
The duality of man
This game epitomized just how inconsistent both sides truly are.
Dortmund’s defensive issues were on show early on. Playing too high of a line, they were easily beaten on the break, which led to the opening goal of the contest. However, their attacking talent allowed Die Schwarz-Gelben to respond, and their clinical nature in front of goal pretty much sealed the result before the half-time break.
Bremen, meanwhile, started very well. They looked solid defensively, limiting chances for the opposition early on. They were able to take the lead through Milot Rashica, and it looked like Die Grün-Weißen had a legitimate chance of pulling off a surprising result.
However, things fell apart quite quickly for Bremen. Undone by a moment of brilliance from Giovanni Reyna, the floodgates then opened up. Poor and careless defending led to another two goals moments later, putting the team in a hole that they couldn’t climb out of.
Both of these sides aren’t as good as they should be, and the Bundesliga standings prove that. Dortmund might potentially miss out on the top four and Champions League qualification, while Bremen now find themselves back in the battle to avoid relegation.
Man of the match - Erling Haaland
Back on the scoresheet once again, Haaland’s two goals on the day were enough for Dortmund to pick up the needed victory.
The striker had been in a bit of a goal drought going into this contest, failing to score in any of his last seven games for club and country. He hadn’t been playing badly, but the streak did start to make headlines.
His duct was broken versus Bremen, though, as Haaland was able to find the back of the net once again. His first came from the spot, slamming a penalty that Jiří Pavlenka would have had trouble stopping even if he had guessed the right way. The second was lucky, to be fair, as a loose ball fell right to the Norwegian for a simple tap-in.
The goals weren’t the prettiest, but neither Haaland nor Dortmund will mind as they were enough to get the job done. As a result, the team's top four dreams are still alive, as they now sit four points back of Eintracht Frankfurt with five games left to play this season. If Die Schwarz-Gelben are to have any hope of qualifying for the Champions League, they’ll need Haaland to keep scoring.
Luckily for them, he seems up to the challenge.