Borussia Dortmund narrowly missed out on the home win they had been hoping for on Bundesliga Matchday 21 as they were held to a dramatic 3-3 (2-0) draw by TSG Hoffenheim, but the Black & Yellows nonetheless remain top of the table.
Boris Rupert reporting
The sell-out crowd of 81,365 spectators − of whom 79,865 were BVB fans − at Signal Iduna Park saw the hosts take in a 2-0 lead at the break thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho (32) and Mario Götze (43). It was a different story after the restart, however, as Roman Bürki made a series of outstanding saves to keep his team in the game, before Raphael Guerreiro made it 3-0 against the run of play on 66 minutes. But Hoffenheim fought back in the closing stages, scoring three goals through Ishak Belfodil (75, 87) and Pavel Kaderabek (83) to level the score and earn a point.
Table-toppers Borussia Dortmund had won three of their previous four Bundesliga matches, while the Kraichgau club had only lost one of their most recent 13 outings. BVB went into this one with the superior head-to-head record, having only lost one of their past 12 competitive clashes with TSG.
Borussia Dortmund went into this match without the injured Marco Reus, the suspended Thomas Delaney (five bookings accumulated), the recovering Manuel Akanji and their ill head coach Lucien Favre, who had held the team talk at lunchtime but remained at the hotel. But Roman Bürki, Marwin Hitz, Marcel Schmelzer, Lukasz Piszczek and Jadon Sancho were all available again. The coaching staff made five changes to the team that faced Bremen in the DFB Cup on Tuesday, with Bürki, Piszczek, Dahoud, Sancho and Philipp beginning in place of Oelschlägel, Toprak, Delaney, Pulisic and Alcácer. Dahoud stepping in for Delaney aside, it was the same XI that won 1-0 in Leipzig in the first match after Christmas.
The visitors opted for a defensive 5-3-2 in which the full-backs pushed forward upon regaining possession. The hosts, meanwhile, lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Dahoud alongside Witsel. Philipp filled Reus' central attacking midfield role, while Diallo returned to the heart of defence alongside Weigl.
The match & analysis:
April weather − a mixture of sun, rain and fierce, choppy winds − appeared to have arrived two months early at Signal Iduna Park, where both teams made a cautious start to the game. BVB were the superior side but initially couldn't break down the visitors' compact defence and get into shooting positions in the penalty area, although Philipp came close with an effort from 20 metres on the 20-minute mark.
Arguably the biggest moment of the opening stages came on 11 minutes when Posch's clearance rebounded off Sancho and into the net. But referee Fritz consulted VAR and decided Götze, who had been standing offside, had impeded Posch and that meant he was playing an active rather than a passive role. As a result, the goal was disallowed.
Sancho was simultaneously the liveliest and most-fouled player on the pitch – but that did not stop the youngster from working his magic. On 32 minutes, he initiated the move that led to his "second" goal when he played a one-two with Pisczek before sprinting into the penalty area and directing a well-placed shot through the legs of a Hoffenheim defender that wrong-footed shot-stopper Baumann and nestled inside the far post.
That lead was soon doubled thanks to a perfectly executed counter-attack on the stroke of half-time. Hakimi intercepted a Hoffenheim move with his chest in his own box and via Guerreiro and Sancho the ball found its way to Witsel, who found Dahoud on the left. Although Baumann saved his shot, he parried the ball into the path of Götze who was left with the task of a simple tap-in (43).
Sancho strikes the post before Belfodil pulls one back
After the restart, Hoffenheim sought opportunities to pull a goal back and piled on the pressure. Schulz (52) and Geiger (69) narrowly missed, while Bürki made outstanding stops to thwart Joelinton (56) and Belfodil (61). But although the Dortmund dominance of the first 45 minutes had disappeared, some outstanding link-up play involving Götze and Sancho teed up Guerreiro to make it 3-0 against the run of play and briefly steady the nerves. Alcácer had the chance to make it 4-0 soon after coming on from the bench (72), with Sancho striking the woodwork minutes later (75).
But Hoffenheim went straight up the other end and pulled one back through Belfodil, before Kaderabek headed home Schulz's cross eight minutes later. It was end to end at this point, with Alcácer's shot put behind for a corner (84) before a Geiger free-kick set up Belfodil for a header with minutes remaining (87). The South Stand thought they might see their side steal a 90th-minute winner but Diallo's header sailed wide.
Borussia Dortmund are next in action on Wednesday when they travel to London for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie with Tottenham Hotspur. That match will kick off at 21:00 CET.