Borussia Dortmund ensured they stayed on track by beating Hannover 96 in their first home game of 2019. Hakimi, Reus, Götze, Guerreiro and Witsel got the goals as the Black & Yellows ran out comfortable 5-1 (1-0) winners on Bundesliga Matchday 19.
Boris Rupert reporting
The 81,365 spectators at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park saw BVB open the scoring on 24 minutes through Achraf Hakimi, before a three-goal salvo just after the hour-mark – Marco Reus (60), Mario Götze (62.) and Raphael Guerreiro (67) were the scorers – put the hosts into a 4-0 lead against a Hannover 96 that had earlier proven tough to break down. The visitors did grab a late consolation through Bakalorz, only for Axel Witsel to add a fifth in the final minute.
League leaders BVB had won eight of their last nine league matches, while 17th-placed Hannover were winless in their previous seven outings. The Black & Yellows went into this one with a very good home record against the 96ers, having beaten them in seven of their last eight meetings at the Strobelallee.
Reus returned to the starting XI after missing the 1-0 win in Leipzig last time out. He replaced Philipp, who had been suffering from a hip problem, while Toprak returned to the squad.
The Black & Yellows lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation and tried to stretch their opponents, forcing their way down the flanks and towards the byline in a bid to get in behind the Hannover defence. The 96ers took to the field in a defensive-minded 3-5-2 formation. But despite lining up with a back five, Breitenreiter's charges looked very lively, pressed high and covered a lot of ground.
The match & analysis:
BVB really struggled in the opening 20 minutes against a highly committed and well-organised Hannover side, who created an early chance to take the lead. Bürki made an outstanding save to deny Weydandt's header in the second minute, tipping the ball around the post for a corner-kick.
A misplaced pass by Bakalorz handed the hosts their first opportunity in the 20th minute, but Reus fired over the crossbar having been fed by Götze. The captain again went close two minutes later after being brilliantly set up by Piszczek but was ultimately denied by the post, although Dortmund finally got the deserved breakthrough minutes later when Hakimi cut in from the left and exchanged a one-two with Guerreiro before curling home the opener.
The Black & Yellows continued to leave themselves unusually exposed at the back, but they looked incisive going forward and almost doubled their advantage five minutes before the interval when Piszczek played a quickly-taken free-kick into the path of Guerreiro, whose volley from 16 metres forced Esser into a spectacular save.
Three goals in seven minutes
There was initially little change to the balance of play after the restart, with Dortmund probing and Hannover holding their own. But eventually some individual quality from the BVB forwards made the difference and the lead was doubled in the 60th minute when Hakimi dispossessed Albornoz in the box and squared to Reus, who dinked the ball into the net with the outside of his foot. A third came two minutes later when Weigl and Sancho teed up Götze for a simple finish from a centre-right position, before Guerreiro added a fourth on 66 minutes after latching on to an outstanding through-ball from Reus. Bakalorz did manage to pull one back for the visitors in the 86th minute, but it was Dortmund who had the final word when Witsel thundered the ball in off the post to make it 5-1 in the 90th minute.
BVB are next in action on Saturday, when they visit Eintracht Frankfurt for the top match of Round 20. Kick-off will be at 15:30 CET.