Borussia Dortmund have kicked off the final stretch of games before the winter break with a win, beating Mainz 2-1 (0-0) on Bundesliga Matchday 12 to claim their fourth away victory on the bounce and cement their position at the top of the table.

Boris Rupert reporting from Mainz

The spectators at a sold-out Opel Arena saw an intense and interesting match, with Borussia Dortmund beginning brightly but Mainz growing into the game as it progressed. Substitute Alcácer broke the deadlock for the Black & Yellows in the 66th minute, only for Quaison to restore parity four minutes later. But Piszczek responded with an outstanding curler that went in off the bar after 76 minutes to hand the visitors a 2-1 win.


The scenario: 
The Westphalians had won 12 of their previous 16 matches against Mainz, drawing twice and losing twice. Before kick-off the two teams shared the second-best defensive record in the division behind Leipzig (12 goals conceded each)

Personnel matters: 
The sole injury absentees were Schmelzer (fitness following knee injury) and Hitz (infection). Coach Lucien Favre made two changes to the starting line-up that beat Bayern Munich 3-2 prior to the international break, with the fit-again Bürki returning between the sticks and Delaney replacing Weigl.

Mainz, who lined up in a defensive-minded 5-3-2 system, sat deep whenever Dortmund had possession. The visitors, meanwhile, attacked in their tried-and-tested 4-2-3-1 system in which a more-or-less free role was given to Reus, who was involved in the play on both flanks and down the middle.

The match & analysis:
Borussia Dortmund set up camp in the Mainz half for spells during the first period, defending with a very high line and repeatedly identifying openings in the 05ers' defence. They were good to watch and their dominance was reflected in the statistics: 5-1 shots, 75 percent possession and a pass completion rate of 93 percent midway through the opening 45 minutes. Zagadou had a header kept out by Zentner (4), another header by Reus missed by a matter of centimetres (10) and Witsel forced the Mainz shot-stopper into a save with a strike from 18 metres (21).


Despite their dominance, lapses in concentration crept into their game now and again, and Bürki was called into action to deny Mateta (20) and Aaron (27). Those chances gave the 05ers self-confidence and prompted a resurgence from the hosts, who had had as many shots as the visitors by the interval (6-6).

Mainz made a lively start to the second period, with their quick and high pressing forcing errors from a Borussia Dortmund side that looked off the pace. The hosts had their first chance within two minutes when Mateta's shot took a dangerous deflection (47), before Latza hit the side-netting on 52 minutes. BVB subsequently re-established control over proceedings, although their shots and passes in and around the box lacked precision.

With 64 minutes on the clock, Favre introduced his super sub. And it took Alcácer all of two minutes before he tapped home a ball across the face of goal from Reus − who himself had been fed by Sancho − to make it 1-0 (66). The Spaniard has scored eight of his nine goals this season from the bench. But the lead proved to be short-lived, with Hack's pass from midfield taking an unfortunate deflection into the path of Quaison, who beat Bürki to equalise (70).

BVB immediately sought to re-establish their lead and did so on 76 minutes when the ball fell to Piszczek on the edge of the box. The Pole curled the ball accurately towards goal, his shot bouncing down off the bar and over the line to make it 2-1.

A strong Zentner save in the 89th minute denied Reus the opportunity to make it 3-1, but fortune was on the Black & Yellows' side as they managed to hold out for the five minutes of stoppage time to seal the win.

All the goals and highlights at a click

Borussia Dortmund could prematurely book their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League when they host Club Bruges on Matchday 5 on Wednesday (for the remaining tickets click here). BVB will be at home again next Saturday, when they welcome Sportclub Freiburg in the Bundesliga.

Teams & goals