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Borussia Dortmund ended their three-match winless streak on the road by twice coming from behind to beat Hertha Berlin in the capital on Matchday 26 of the Bundesliga season, despite having several players unavailable due to injury.
Boris Rupert reporting from Berlin
The 74,669 spectators at a sold-out Olympiastadion – among them 20,000 BVB fans – saw Hertha Berlin twice take the lead twice through Kalou in the opening half. His brace came either side of Delaney's equaliser for the Black & Yellows, who had more of the ball and the better chances in what was an energetic and entertaining encounter. Zagadou made it 2-2 when he headed home a corner shortly after the restart, but the visitors subsequently spurned a number of top opportunities before Reus wrapped up a deserved 3-2 victory with a stoppage-time winner.
Borussia Dortmund had only lost one of their previous 10 matches against Hertha Berlin, though they had not won on any of their last four visits to the capital (two draws, two defeats).
As well as Lukasz Piszczek (fitness following heel complaints) and Maximilian Philipp (partially torn lateral collateral ligament in knee), head coach Lucien Favre was without Witsel (torn muscle fibres in adductor), Mario Götze (rib injury) and Paco Alcácer (pulled muscle). Those absences meant he was forced to make five changes to the team that had beaten Stuttgart at home, with Zagadou, Delaney, Weigl, Pulisic and Bruun Larsen replacing Hakimi, Witsel, Götze, Guerrreiro and Alcácer in the starting XI.
The personnel changes were accompanied by a tactical switch. BVB opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation in which Delaney partnered Weigl in defensive midfield, while Sancho moved from the right to the left in the offensive midfield trio. Bruun Larsen started at centre-forward with Reus behind him. Hertha pressed high in a 3-3-4 formation and tried to force BVB into long balls. When their opponents overcame the first line of pressing, the capital club withdrew and full-backs Mittelstädt and Lazaro dropped back to expand the back three into a back five.
The match & analysis:
The hosts made a dream start as the rain poured down in the capital. After three minutes, Mittelstädt received the ball from a throw-in and cut in from the left before unleashing a drive from 17 metres. Bürki struggled to hold the shot on the wet surface and spilt it into the path of Kalou, who slotted home from close range.
Hertha allowed their opponents, whose attacking link-up play was fast and direct, a surprising amount of space. On the 12-minute mark, shot-stopper Jarstein made a flying save to deny Bruun Larsen an equaliser. The leveller did eventually come two minutes later, however, when Lazaro's misplaced pass was intercepted by Delaney deep in his own half. The Dane drove forward powerfully and struck a shot from the edge of the area that took a fortuitous deflection off Rekik and sailed into the net. Reus almost put the visitors ahead eight minutes later when he was picked out by Bruun Larsen, but Jarstein managed to deny the Dortmund captain with an outstretched leg.
Dortmund were now in full flow, spurred on by the raucous support of 20,000 away fans. Yet it was the hosts who took the lead on 35 minutes when Duda crossed into the middle and Weigl, raising his arms instinctively to protect his face, was adjudged to have handled the effort from two metres out. Referee Welz pointed to the spot and while the decision was technically in keeping with the rules of the game, it illustrated how out of touch they are. Kalou slotted home the ensuing spot-kick to make it 2-1. BVB, who had twice as many shots (8-4) in the first period, could have equalised three minutes before half-time but Jarstein was again on hand to make the save from Sancho's curling effort from the left.
Pulisic had a shot deflected into the side-netting immediately after the restart. Sancho took the resulting corner and it was met by the head of Zagadou, who slotted home on the 47-minute mark. BVB created a slew of top chances in the period that followed but shots from Sancho (49) and Pulisic (58) were both blocked at the last second, while Jarstein made another strong save to deny Bruun Larsen on 54 minutes. Sancho suddenly found himself clean through on 59 minutes but snatched at it and shot wide. The capital club could have had a penalty seconds earlier when Diallo collided with Duda – who had hit the post two minutes earlier – but the claim was waved away by the referee.
BVB continued to push for the win in what was a highly entertaining game but Pulisic (75) and Hakimi (79), who came on to replace the injured Wolf, missed gilt-edged chances to put their side 3-2 up. Torunarigha was dismissed with five minutes to go for a second bookable offence against Hakimi. Delaney then had a shot from distance that hit the crossbar (88), but the breakthrough for the visitors did eventually come deep in stoppage time when Reus scored a late-ditch winner following brilliant build-up play from Jadon Sancho. The hosts were reduced to nine men two minutes later when Ibisevic was given his marching orders for unsporting conduct.
The match in Berlin will now be followed by a two-week international break, which will give the Black & Yellows ample time to recover from their injuries. The Bundesliga campaign will resume for BVB on 30 March when they play host to VfL Wolfsburg (Saturday, 15:30 CET).