Borussia Dortmund remain top of the Bundesliga despite suffering their first defeat of the season on Matchday 8. The Black & Yellows were narrowly beaten 3-2 (2-1) by Rasenballsport Leipzig in a hard-fought and extremely entertaining match on Saturday, meaning their incredible home unbeaten run of 41 matches has finally come to an end.
Dennis-Julian Gottschlich reporting
The 81,360 spectators at a sold-out SIGNAL IDUNA PARK witnessed an eventful encounter in which Aubameyang handed the hosts an early lead (4) before Sabitzer (10) and Poulsen (25) both scored for the visitors to turn the game on its head. It was end-to-end action in the second period, with Sokratis receiving a straight red card for a professional foul on Augustin in the box (47) – the Leipzig man fired home the ensuing penalty to make it 3-1 (49) – and Ilsanker then sent off for two bookable offences in as many minutes (56). The next noteworthy incident came when the referee awarded Aubameyang a spot-kick after consulting the video assistant referee. The Gabon international converted from the spot in the 64th minute to give BVB the momentum and pile the pressure on Leipzig in the closing stages, but ultimately the visitors held firm and took all three points.
BVB had won their previous four matches, were on a 13-game unbeaten run stretching back into last season and had made their best ever-start to a season after seven rounds. Leipzig had lost only one of their previous six – a 1-0 defeat in Augsburg on 19 September. The two teams had faced each other for the first time last season, with each winning their respective home game by a 1-0 scoreline.
BVB were without Piszczek (lateral collateral ligament in knee), Schmelzer (fitness), Reus (rehab following cruciate ligament tear), Schürrle (rehab following fibre tear), Durm (hip operation), Guerreiro (rehab following broken ankle) and Rode (pubic bone). Peter Bosz made six changes to the team that had beaten Augsburg before the international break, bringing in Zagadou, Toprak, Sahin, Castro, Götze and Philipp in place of Bartra, Pulisic, Weigl, Kagawa, Dahoud (all bench) and Piszczek. Leipzig only had one injury absentee to contend with: Klostermann (thigh problem).
Both teams delivered a masterclass in counter-pressing, keeping the opposing defence permanently under pressure as they attempted to build from the back. For Leipzig, who lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, three of their four attacking players sought to close down the Black & Yellows – playing in their usual 4-3-3 system – quickly when they had possession and were looking to launch an attack from their own half. BVB's opener came from one such moment, but the men from Saxony otherwise looked solid in defence and doubled up on their opponents. After the break, Bosz briefly switched to a 3-5-2 with Sokratis, Toprak and Zagadou in the middle and Pulisic (right) and Philipp in the wide positions, while Yarmolenko spearheaded the attack alongside Aubameyang. Once Sokratis had been sent off in the 48th minute, Dortmund reverted to a back four (Pulisic, Toprak, Bartra, Zagadou) but remained with two centre-forwards.
The match & analysis:
It was end-to-end action even in the opening stages, with only ten seconds on the clock when Borussia Dortmund created their first goalscoring chance through Philipps, whose shot from outside the box was blocked by a Leipzig defender. A matter of minutes later Aubameyang closed down Ilsanker following a backpass, stealing the ball off the Leipzig man's toes and bearing down on goal before curling an unstoppable shot past custodian Gulacsi and into the far corner from ten metres out to put the Black & Yellows 1-0 ahead (4). Bürki was called into action for the first time a short while later when Augustin broke through down the left, but the Swiss shot-stopper made a sensational handball-style save with his foot to keep out the Frenchman (8).
It would not be long before Leipzig levelled the scores, however. Kampl struck a free-kick from a central position near the halfway line into the penalty area, where Halstenberg headed it back across the face of goal for Sabitzer to nod home the equaliser (10). BVB, though, were as unperturbed as Leipzig had been five minutes earlier and created their next chance barely three minutes later when Yarmolenko picked out Aubameyang with a wonderful pass with the outside of his foot, the Gabon forward beating two opponents before being denied by Gulacsi from seven metres out (13). A while later Sahin hit a left-footed effort from the edge of the box but it flew narrowly over (20).
Aubameyang strikes to give BVB hope
Leipzig also continued to pose a threat and repeatedly managed to get in behind the BVB rearguard. One such incident came on the 25-minute mark, when Bruma skipped past Toljan down the left and raced along the byline before sidefooting through Bürki's legs and into the six-yard box, leaving Poulsen with an easy tap-in to put the visitors 2-1 up. Bruma had another opportunity only two minutes later, though this time Bürki was equal to the danger. The visitors continued to dominate until shortly before half-time, cleverly keeping BVB at arm's length, with Yarmolenko's long-range effort that sailed well wide in the 40th minute one of very few remotely dangerous moments from the hosts leading up to the break. Another came a minute later when Philipp's shot was saved by Gulacsi.
A short while later the half-time whistle was blown by referee Aytekin, who found himself in the spotlight immediately after the interval when he gave Sokratis a straight red card for a professional foul on Augustin inside the penalty area and awarded the men from Saxony a spot-kick. Having won the penalty, Augustin himself stepped up to take it and sent Bürki the wrong way with a strike into the bottom right corner (49). The Black & Yellows now had 40 minutes to mount a comeback with ten men against strong opposition, but they were not to be fazed.
Dramatic scenes at the end
Zagadou headed goalbound from a corner in the 54th minute but his effort lacked precision, then Leipzig's Ilsanker was sent off for committing two bookable offences in as many minutes. The defender earned his first yellow for a foul on Götze in the run-up to the Zagadou chance (54), before receiving his marching orders for a tactical foul on Aubameyang on the halfway line to prevent a BVB counter-attack (56). With both teams down to ten men, BVB regained control of the match and went close when a deflected shot from substitute Weigl sailed narrowly wide of the post (58). Aubameyang then went down just inside the penalty area following a challenge from Upamecano, prompting Aytekin to consult the video assistant and eventually award the hosts a spot-kick. The Gabon forward's penalty closely resembled Augustin's a quarter of an hour earlier, nestling in the bottom right corner to make it 3-2 (64).
BVB piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser, with Castro missing Aubameyang's cross towards the far post by inches (70). Four minutes later, the midfield man's shot was denied by Gulacsi following an excellent run from Yarmolenko (74), whose header from close range ten minutes later was saved too (84). Borussia gave it their all but Leipzig somehow managed to deny their hosts what would have been a deserved equaliser, given that Aubameyang was denied by Gulacsi again in stoppage time and Yarmolenko missed an open goal from the rebound (90+2).
BVB now face four away fixtures in a row this month, the first of which comes in Cyprus on Tuesday (20:45 CET) when they take on Apoel Nicosia. Next up in the Bundesliga is a trip to Eintracht Frankfurt next Saturday (15:30 CET).