Following three draws on the bounce, Borussia Dortmund returned to winning ways with an important 1-0 (0-0) victory over table-toppers Borussia Mönchengladbach on Bundesliga Matchday 8. In an entertaining encounter with plenty of chances at both ends, Marco Reus scored the only goal of the night just before the hour mark.
Boris Rupert reporting
The 81,365 spectators at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park saw a high-quality game in which BVB had significantly more first-half chances (7-3) but could not find a breakthrough until the 58th minute, when Marco Reus – playing with an influenza infection – opened the scoring. Roman Bürki's injury-induced substitution was a minor turning point in the game but, despite a resurgence in the final 20 minutes, Gladbach could not beat stand-in shot-stopper Hitz.
BVB were targeting their ninth consecutive victory against the men from Gladbach, who went into this one as league leaders and with a four-point lead over the hosts. The Black & Yellows had taken 37 out of a possible 39 points at home to the Foals in the previous 13 years.
Jadon Sancho was omitted from the 20-man squad. Lucien Favre cited "a disciplinary measure" as the reason, adding: "Everything else will remain internal." Michael Zorc explained: "Jadon is a good lad. He's very young, he's grown up very fast. He perhaps sometimes tests the boundaries. It's not great in our situation. We haven't taken the decision lightly, but there was no alternative. We have a responsibility to ensure the health of the squad. The suspension only applies to today. Jadon still trained this morning; we're expecting him to be involved again on Wednesday."
In addition to Sancho, the injured trio of Alcácer (muscular problems after recovering from an irritated Achilles tendon), Götze (flu) and Schmelzer (back problems) were unavailable. Favre made three changes to the starting XI that were held to a 2-2 draw by Freiburg 14 days ago, with Weigl, Schulz and Brandt replacing Piszczek (on the bench following a fibre tear), Guerreiro (substitute) and Götze in the line-up.
Akanji started on the right of defence in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Weigl partnering Hummels at the heart of defence. Schulz, meanwhile, lined up at left-back in an almost entirely new-look back four. Brandt mostly operated as the lone frontman, although he played level with Reus in a 4-4-2 system whenever the opposition had the ball. Gladbach adopted a 4-4-2 formation without possession but switched to a 4-3-3 with the highly versatile Benes in the centre when going forward.
The match & analysis:
It was the open game everyone had been expecting from the first whistle, with numerous chances at both ends. There were 10 in total in the first half – seven for Dortmund and three for Gladbach, who would have taken the lead in the fifth minute had Reus not blocked Jantschke's effort in the six-yard box following a corner. Two minutes later at the other end, former Gladbach man Hazard was picked out by the agile Brandt and had a shot turned behind for a corner, with Delaney heading over from the ensuing set-piece. After 12 minutes, Brandt pulled the trigger from a centre-left position after being brilliantly set up by Reus only for Sommer to make a brilliant save.
A relatively subdued few minutes followed but the game came alive again when Benes whipped a cross into the box from a free-kick in the 26th-minute, with Lainer subsequently forcing Bürki into a brilliant save in the six-yard box. The shot-stopper made another top stop to deny Embolo in a one-on-one three minutes later. At the other end, Reus went close but was denied at the last, while Sommer did well to claw Hummels' powerful yet well-placed header away from the top corner in the 32nd minute.
The breakthrough appeared to have come barely 60 seconds later – Brandt and Reus linked up well before Hazard's shot from 16 metres took a deflection off Wendt on its way in – but video assistant Osmers deemed the captain to have been offside in the build-up and the goal was disallowed.
Gladbach adopted a much higher press at the beginning of the second period, although Hummels and Weigl mostly managed to find a way around it and BVB continued to create opportunities: Hazard's blocked effort in the 51st minute fell to Brandt, who blazed the ball over the bar under pressure; three minutes later, the former Leverkusen man hit the side netting, though he was offside anyway and it would not have counted.
The long-overdue and highly deserved opener eventually came in the 58th minute when Brandt, on the right flank, played the ball into the centre towards Hazard, who threaded it through to Reus. The captain beat Sommer in the race to the ball and poked it home from inside the box.
With 20 minutes remaining, Bürki was forced off with an injury and was replaced in between the sticks by Hitz, who has won every BVB game he has played to date. He was nearly beaten in the 72nd minute, though, with Hummels making a sensational challenge to deny Gladbach substitute Herrmann as he pulled the trigger from point-blank range.
Gladbach pressed, switched to a back three and took greater risks. Brandt could have doubled the lead following a counter in the 82nd minute, but Sommer made a brilliant save. He did finally find the net two minutes later following Hakimi's cutback, but the offside flag went up because Reus was standing in the goalkeeper's line of sight. In an entertaining finale – there were six minutes of stoppage time – Thuram hit the outside of the Dortmund net (86) and Hitz made a great stop to keep out Neuhaus (89).
The two teams will face each other again in the DFB Cup in just 11 days' time. First of all, though, BVB face trips to Milan (Wednesday at 21:00 CET) and Gelsenkirchen (Saturday 26/10 at 15:30 CET).