Borussia Dortmund got themselves up and running in the UEFA Champions League with a win away from home: BVB overcame Belgian champions FC Brugge 1-0 (0-0) thanks to a goal from birthday boy Christian Pulisic (20).

Boris Rupert reporting from Bruges

In front of approximately 29,000 fans in a not quite sold out Jan Breydel Stadium, Borussia dominated much of the game, aside from a short period in the middle of the first half, but struggled to really threaten the opposition's goal. What few opportunities there were were mainly in favour of the home side, despite the fact they were the busier of the two teams in defense in the second half. Once more, Favre had an ace up his sleeve with his substitutions: Pulisic got the winning goal in the 85th minute, greatly assisted by a deflection off an opposition player.


The scenario:
After 1987 and 2003 it was BVB's third trip to Bruges, and this time around they fancied themselves to come away with a first ever win. ''They have the best players in the Belgian league,'' said Belgium native Axel Witsel before the encounter: ''But with the quality players we have we should win on Tuesday.'' Brugge were coming off the back of a run of ten matches without a win in the UEFA Champions League; BVB on the other hand were hoping for a first away win in six matches.

Head coach Lucien Favre had to make do without the services of Delaney (knee problem), Alcácer (muscular problem), Toprak (pulled hamstring) and Guerreiro (muscular problem). He made four changes to the starting line-up from Friday's Bundesliga match against Frankfurt (3-1). Weigl, Witsel, Götze and Sancho came in to replace, Delaney, Dahoud, Bruun Larsen and Philipp.

As they had done days before against Frankfurt in the league, BVB started the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Weigl and Witsel occupying the double pivot positions this time round. Götze - playing in the middle of the three man attacking midfield line - often switched roles with Reus, who was, on paper at least, playing as the lone striker. Brugge played with a highly flexible variation of a 3-5-2, with two attacking midfielders (Vanaken, Vormer) playing behind two strikers. The wingers, Danjuma on the left and Vlientinck on the right, often moved forward to join attacks. Without the ball, the home team would switch to a 4-4-2, with Vlientinck slotting in to a four man defence while his counterpart Danjuma moved forwards.

Match events and analysis:
Borussia were nearly gifted the lead just 13 seconds into the match, Wolf missing an almost empty net from about 25 metres out after Reus had done well to win the ball after a poorly played pass by the goalkeeper. Brugge were cautious at first, but soon upped the tempo around the 20 minute mark, which led to several chances: Reus was forced to clear a shot off the line from Vossen, soon afterwards Bürki did well to deny Danjuma in the 23rd minute, and just a minute later he deflected another shot from distance just wide of the post. Borussia soon found their rhythm again and before long were on top once more. Nonetheless, in the 39th minute a long range thunderbolt from Denswils didn't miss by much. All things considered, Dortmund were happy to go in 0-0 at the break, despite the fact they too had had their chances to score: Diallo just failed to connect with a header on by Piszczek around the half hour mark, while Schmelzer headed an Akanji cross just wide of the target in the 45th minute.

Far more structure in the second half

Borussia came out after half-time playing with a lot more structure, but precision and sharpness was still lacking when looking to play the ball around the opposition's area, whilst on the defensive side, they caused unnecessary problems for themselves on a couple of occasions. Favre took action on the hour mark, bringing Kagawa on to replace Götze in central attacking midfield, while Pulisic took the place of Sancho on the wing (69'). Brugge offered very little going forward at this point in the match, but they were more than holding firm at the back.

In the 80th minute, Piszczek sent a cross from Schmelzer just wide of the right hand post, while up the other end a misplaced BVB pass presented Openda with a one-on-one against Bürki - but the Swiss keeper did superbly well to prevent a goal! (83')

Bürki saves - Pulisic scores on the counter

Playing on the counter, substitute Dahoud sent the ball into the box. Mitrovic's attempted clearance rebounded off Pulisic's leg and looped up into the goal to make the score 1-0! The young American had given himself the perfect birthday present! In the three minute injury time period, a Dahoud shot was deflected behind for a corner (92').


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The next opponent in the UEFA Champions League is AS Monaco on 3 October. BVB play TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday (15.30 CET) in the Bundesliga.

Teams & Goals