Borussia Dortmund have rounded off the first half of the season with a 2-1 (1-1) victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach. The win, which means the Black & Yellows have the second-best pre-Christmas points haul in their history, came courtesy of goals from Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus in an exciting top-of-the-table encounter on Friday night.

Boris Rupert reports

The 81,365 fans at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park witnessed an entertaining affair in which BVB took the lead when Sancho slotted home from an almost impossible angle on 42 minutes, only for Gladbach to level through Kramer in first-half stoppage time. But Reus re-established the lead in the 54th minute and later came close to extending the home side's advantage when his free-kick thudded against the upright.

The scenario:  
Borussia Dortmund went into this match on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run at Signal Iduna Park in all competitions (W10 D2). The men from Gladbach had only won one of their previous four away matches – a 3-1 triumph in Bremen on 10 November – but were by no means a pushover on their travels: only four teams had suffered fewer away defeats than Hecking's men (three) prior to kick-off.


Personnel matters:  
With Akanji, Diallo and Zagadou all unavailable, Favre was forced to bring in some new faces and made six changes from the team that lost 2-1 in Düsseldorf in midweek. Weigl, Toprak and Hakimi, who formed the four-man backline along with Piszczek, stepped in for Akanji, Diallo and Schmelzer, while Sancho, Guerreiro and Alcácer began in place of Pulisic, Bruun Larsen and Götze. Pieper, a centre-back for the U23s, made the senior squad for a Bundesliga match for the first time. Starting in central defence was by no means unfamiliar territory for Weigl, who had previously occupied the role in a 2-2 draw against Frankfurt in October 2017.

There may have been a number of personnel changes, but the newcomers slotted in seamlessly as head coach Lucien Favre kept the tried-and-tested 4-2-3-1 formation he has consistently deployed this season. Dortmund pressed high in the Gladbach half in a bid to force their opponents into mistakes. The Foals lined up in a 4-3-3 formation and at times played a high pressing game themselves, although it was relatively easily circumvented with quick switch-play. The Black & Yellows resorted to a 4-4-2 formation when their opponents had the ball, with Reus pushing up alongside Alcácer.

The match & analysis:
The sell-out crowd at Signal Iduna Park, who created a unique atmosphere in the stands, saw some frenetic football and very aggressive pressing in the opening stages. A notable example came in the 20th minute when Guerreiro dispossessed Kramer and immediately picked out Alcácer, who threaded a perfect ball through to Reus. The captain attempted to curl his shot into the far corner, but shot-stopper Sommer saved his side with a block from close range.

BVB created another good shooting opportunity – this time for Alcácer – in the 22nd minute. But the forward narrowly missed the target and was forced off by a muscular problem in the posterior thigh region shortly afterwards. Following a brief spell with 10 men, Götze came off the bench to make his 200th Bundesliga appearance (34).


The Black & Yellows got their reward for a convincing and highly committed performance in the 42nd minute when Guerreiro again dispossessed a Gladbach player and threaded the ball through to Reus. The captain's pass infield was slightly behind Götze, who picked out Sancho. The young Englishmen subsequently carried the ball towards the byline before striking a shot from an almost impossible angle that went in off the post. 1-0 to the home side.

Kramer handballs, then scores

But the Gladbach response was swift. Having initially risen to meet Zakaria's cross, Kramer pounced on the loose ball in the six-yard when it rebounded off Piszczek and into his path, slotting home to draw level on the stroke of half-time (45+1). There had been suspicion of handball, but referee Zwayer allowed the goal to stand after consulting the video assistant referee. In doing so, he made a decision that the ZDF pundits believed was the right one. But Matthias Sammer, who was in the Eurosport studio himself, took completely the opposite view.

Götze with another assist for Reus

However, the Black & Yellows would not be sidetracked after conceding a goal that was as controversial as it was unfortunate – it was actually the only opportunity Gladbach had in the first period – and they responded in style nine minutes after the break. Having received the ball from Sancho on the right flank, Götze played a perfect pass in behind the defence and towards Reus, who slid in and bundled the ball over the line from the edge of the six-yard box.


That advantage would have been extended had Reus' almost perfectly executed free-kick from 18 metres out not rebounded off the upright in the 65th minute of the match. Dortmund maintained their high tempo in the period that followed and kept their opponents at arm's length from their goal for the most part, although there was a late spell of pressure as tiredness began to set in following a hectic few weeks of fixtures for BVB. In the end, though, the hosts held on for the 90 minutes – and the 4:41 minutes of stoppage time allowed by Zwayer – to secure the win.

All the goals and highlights at a click

The BVB players will begin their brief Christmas break tomorrow before kicking off their mid-season preparations with performance tests on 3 January 2019. They will head to their Marbella training camp between 4 and 12 January, during which period there are two friendlies planned. The first will be against Fortuna Düsseldorf on 7 January, with the other against Feyenoord on 11 January. Their Bundesliga campaign will resume a week later with a trip to Leipzig (Saturday 19 January at 18:30 CET).

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