Borussia Dortmund struck late to beat J-League runners-up Urawa Reds 3-2 (0-1) in the first match of their Asia Tour thanks to a brace from Emre Mor and a late winner from André Schürrle. The Black and Yellows, who had Mario Götze back in the side after five months on the sidelines, dominated the defensive-minded Japanese outfit but gave away too many clear-cut chances.
The attendance of almost 64,000 in the Saitama Stadium, which was sold out for the first time this season, provided a spectacular, colourful backdrop as yellow and red shirts packed out the stands in equal measure. It was the visitors who dominated in the first period, though, registering 70 percent possession, but they still found themselves a goal down at the end of a first half in which both teams had created a plethora of chances.
Borussia Dortmund went into this one without Kagawa, who "really would have loved to play" but wasn't 100 percent fit. The Japan international instead watched on from the bench as his team, again in a 4-3-3 formation with Sahin in the defensive midfield role, kept both the ball and their opponents moving. The Urawa Reds, who finished second in the J-League last season but are currently languishing in eighth, lined up in a defensive-minded 5-4-1 with counter-attacks in mind. Such was their reluctance to attack that all 20 outfield players spent most of the time crammed into a 30-metre segment of the pitch. Unsurprisingly, then, it was a tight encounter in which chances were initially few and far between.
Marc Bartra heads against the crossbar
But a Bartra header which hit the bar following a Castro free-kick in the 14th minute initiated a flurry of chances at both ends. A minute later Schürrle curled an effort narrowly wide for BVB, before Muto struck the woodwork for the Urawa Reds (22), who took the lead in the 24th minute when Koroki steered the ball over the line with an outstretched leg from the edge of the six-yard box.
Dortmund responded with a Schürrle free-kick that sailed inches wide, in the 32nd minute, before Bartra struck an effort narrowly wide of the post with the outside of his right foot after finding himself in acres of space in the box following a corner ball (36). At the other end Weidenfeller made a wonderful save to stop the unmarked Silva from doubling Urawa's lead (37) before Muto hit the outside of the post from a corner in the 44th minute.
Change of personnel and formation after the break
BVB began the second period in a 3-4-3 formation and continued to dominate proceedings, with Mor forcing the 'keeper into a 57th-minute save, but Urawa Reds continued to hold firm and looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
With 62 minutes on the clock, Mario Götze made his comeback after five months out and was involved in the build-up to the equaliser, which was scored by Mor after he latched onto a pass from Castro, burst into the box from the right and fired home to level the scores (76). Four minutes later Schmelzer cut the ball back from the byline and Mor drilled the ball past the Urawa custodian to put the Black and Yellows 2-1 ahead (80).
Sensational strike by Schürrle
However, Borussia continued to look vulnerable from set-pieces and were pegged back to 2-2 when Endo headed home from a corner (85). BVB would have the last laugh though, with Mor setting up Schürrle to score the winner with a powerful strike into the roof of the net.
BVB first half: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Bartra, Toprak, Schmelzer – Sahin – Rode, Castro – Pulisic, Aubameyang, Schürrle
BVB second half: Weidenfeller – Subotic, Sokratis, Zagadou – Piszczek (Passlack, 66), Sahin (Götze, 62), Castro, Schmelzer – Schürrle, Isak, Mor
Goals: 1-0 Koroki (24), 1-1 Mor (76), 1-2 Mor (80), 2-2 Endo (85), 2-3 Schürrle (88)
Attendance: 63,370 (sold-out)