Borussia Dortmund halved the gap to fourth place to three points with a 3-0 (0-0) home victory over a stubborn Arminia Bielefeld side on Bundesliga Matchday 23. Mo Dahoud, Jadon Sancho and Reinier scored the goals after the interval for the Black & Yellows.
Boris Rupert reporting
Borussia had several good first-half opportunities against a visiting side that held their own and at times looked dangerous themselves. Marco Reus missed the best one in the 27th minute when he struck the crossbar. Mo Dahoud then fired BVB into the lead within two minutes of the restart, before Jadon Sancho made it 2-0 from the penalty spot (58) and Reinier netted his first goal in a Black & Yellow shirt to round off the scoring (81).
Sixth versus 16th: Borussia had not lost in five meetings with Arminia and at home that unbeaten run stood at six games (W3 D3). There had been some big home wins against the East Westphalians recently, including a 6-0 and a 6-1.
The personnel situation was much-improved, with Roman Bürki, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Thorgan Hazard and Lukasz Piszczek all returning to the squad after lengthy spells out and taking their places on the bench. But BVB were still without Manuel Akanji, Marcel Schmelzer and Axel Witsel, plus Thomas Delaney (feverish infection). Jude Bellingham started in place of the Dane and played in defensive midfield alongside Mo Dahoud. There was one more change to the team that had beaten FC Schalke 04 4-0 a week earlier, with Gio Reyna replacing Julian Brandt (bench).
Bielefeld attacked high and bravely in a 4-4-2 formation. That made the pitch bigger, but the visitors managed not to leave open spaces for a long time by shifting cover from side to side. In addition, they tried to entice the Black & Yellows to counter-press and then play long balls up to frontman Klos. It was only after 25 minutes, once the tempo had been upped significantly, that BVB – in a 4-2-3-1 with Dahoud orchestrating the build-up play – started to get in behind.
The match & analysis:
Borussia created two good chances early on. For the first one, Can played a ball in behind and Reus cut it back to Bellingham, whose shot was blocked by Brunner and Pieper in the six-yard box. Guerreiro fired the follow-up wide (4). Reyna then went close with a shot that fizzed past the post barely 60 seconds later. But Arminia had two early chances of their own. Doan's effort from 22 metres out just missed the target (6), then Hitz made a save to deny Kunze (12).
BVB continued to attack – but were kept at arm's length by their well-organised opponents. Only after around 25 minutes did the Black & Yellows up the tempo. But their next opportunity actually came from a set-play in the 27th minute: Ortega spilled Sancho's free-kick and although Hummels' follow-up was blocked, Reus had a clear line of sight from 11 metres out. The captain was denied by the crossbar, however.
Bielefeld struggled when the tempo was upped. Guerreiro cut in and Haaland played the ball to Reus, who was denied by Ortega. But the offside flag was up and it wouldn't have counted (31). Nonetheless, it showed what could be done! Reyna struck the side-netting (32), then Sancho won the ball back and switched at lightning pace – but Ortega was able to raise his right arm and keep out Haaland's first-time strike (38). The opening goal was coming – but in the end it almost came at the other end in the 42nd minute. However, Cordoba rushed his shot from a promising position and fired wide.
Dahoud initiated the opening goal himself when he intercepted an attempted clearance by the East Westphalians and spread the ball out to Sancho on the left. The Englishman cut inside energetically and teed up Dahoud, whose low shot from 17 metres found the bottom corner (48). It was Sancho's 50th in 99 games – no other player has reached that landmark in fewer than 100 matches!
The Bielefeld rearguard could not get a grip on the young Englishman and he picked out Reus, who was felled by Pieper in the box. Had referee Reichel hesitated for a split second before pointing to the spot, the penalty would not have been required as Reyna had put the ball in the net. But the goal (deservedly) did not count. Sancho stepped up and sent a low shot into the bottom right corner to make it 2-0 and claim his sixth goal of the season (58).
Can made an important and impressive intervention to deny Doan on the penalty spot in the 69th minute. Borussia had dropped off a bit after going two goals ahead and the gaps in midfield had become bigger. But Reinier, who had only been substituted on 28 seconds earlier, put the game to bed with 10 minutes to go. Haaland set up the goal after playing a one-two with Reus and then turning on the after-burners.
Bielefeld was the first of five matches in the space of 15 days. Next up is the DFB Cup quarter-final in Mönchengladbach on Tuesday evening (20:45 CET), before the Black & Yellows travel to Munich four days later. That will be followed by the UEFA Champions League last 16 return leg against Sevilla (Tuesday 9 March) and the league home game against Hertha (Saturday 13 March).