Borussia Dortmund marked their return to Bundesliga action with a 5-3 away victory over FC Augsburg on Matchday 18. BVB had trailed 2-0 and 3-1 – but turned the game around thanks to a hat-trick from substitute Haaland plus goals from Brandt and Sancho.
Boris Rupert reporting from Augsburg
The 30,660 spectators at a sold-out WWK Arena in Augsburg saw Dortmund spurn several gilt-edged chances in the opening stages. And they were punished for their profligacy, with the hosts first going ahead through Niederlechner in the 34th minute and then doubling their lead through Richter 19 seconds after the restart. Brandt pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 49th minute, only for Niederlechner to re-establish the two-goal cushion on 55 minutes. But two quickfire goals from Haaland (59) and Sancho (61) levelled the scores at 3-3. The Norwegian then gave Dortmund the lead for the first time all game in the 70th minute, before adding another with 11 minutes to go to make it 5-3.
The 2-1 defeat on 1 March 2019 was the only time that the Black & Yellows have ever lost in the Fugger city. That sole loss was preceded by six away wins – one of which was in the DFB Cup – and two draws. Across 720 minutes of football at home to BVB, FCA have only led for 99 minutes in total. Augburg's 3-1 defeat in Leipzig in the final match of last year was the only time that the Swabians, in 10th place before kick-off, lost between rounds 11 and 17.
There were two changes to the Black & Yellow starting XI that faced Hoffenheim in the final game before the break 29 days ago, with Piszczek and Witsel replacing Zagadou (fibre tear) and Weigl (transfer to Benfica). Norway international and new signing Haaland started the match on the bench.
The absence of Zagadou prompted a reshuffle. Akanji moved from the right to the left side of the back three, with Piszczek assuming the Swiss international's position. BVB transitioned between a 3-4-3 and a 3-5-2, often with Sancho alongside Hazard in attack. Augsburg lined up in a 4-4-2 formation and played a high-pressing game. Three of the Augsburg front four, which consisted of Richter, Jensen, Niederlechner and Vargas, consistently applied pressure on Dortmund's build-up play.
The match & analysis:
BVB initially struggled to cope with Augsburg's aggressive approach but found solutions in the form of Guerreiro, whose creativity led to two major goalscoring opportunities in the opening stages of the match. The Portugal international first played a cross from the left towards Reus in the fourth minute, who looked to pick out Hazard as he raced into the centre. The ball found the Belgian – slightly fortuitously, as it took a deflection off an Augsburg defender – but his shot was kept out by goalkeeper Koubek. Four minutes later, Guerreiro played an excellent pass into the gap between the Augsburg centre-back and full-back. Sancho could have gone for goal himself but tried to tee up the onrushing Reus, who couldn't connect properly with it on the edge of the six-yard box.
Augsburg first posed a goal threat in the 11th minute with a Baier volley and thought they had actually taken the lead on 21 minutes, but provider Niederlechner was deemed to have been offside when he controlled Lichtsteiner's long ball.
Sancho & Reus go close to opening scoring
BVB seemed to have the game more under control midway through the first period, with Augsburg unable or unwilling to put in the same level of running as they had in the opening munutes. Indeed, the Black & Yellows should have taken the lead on the half-hour mark. Sancho received the ball from Brandt and surged into the area in the 28th minute, only to fire narrowly over from 14 metres; then Witsel cut the ball back from the byline to Reus, who shot wide barely 60 seconds later. Instead, it was the Swabians who took the lead when Vargas recovered possession and went on a lung-busting run down the left flank before squaring the ball towards Niederlechner, who was left with a simple tap-in (34).
Favre briefly switched to a back four at the interval, but his side were caught napping 19 seconds after the restart when Richter gathered the ball following a poor clearance from Akanji and fired an effort from long range that left Bürki rooted to the spot. But the Black & Yellows got themselves back in the game barely three minutes later when Hazard picked out Brandt in the penalty area. The Germany international turned inside Baier with aplomb before firing the ball into the back of the net off the inside of the post (49).
What ensued was an end-to-end encounter. In the 55th minute, Jensen intercepted a Dortmund attack and was allowed to run half the length of the field. Vargas then picked out Max, whose cross from the left was touched over the lined by Niederlechner. 3-1!
Haaland enters fray with Augsburg 3-1 up
Haaland replaced Piszczek – Dortmund reverted to a three-man defence at this point – in the aftermath of the goal and made it 3-2 minutes later when he rounded off a move involving Witsel and Sancho with a shot that flew in off the inside of the post. Fifty-nine minutes had been played by this point and the attacks were coming thick and fast. Hummels then played a world-class pass from deep to Sancho and the Englishman went clean through on goal, rounding the goalkeeper and tapping home with his left foot to make it 3-3 (61).
Dortmund unstoppable going forward
Koubek subsequently kept the scores level with saves to deny Reus (62), who had been clean through on goal, and Haaland (65), who had shot from 16 metres out. But by this point, the Black & Yellows were unstoppable going forward – and Haaland made it 4-3 with his second goal of the game in the 70th minute, Hazard rounding the goalkeeper and unselfishly teeing up the Norwegian for his second goal. But there was more to come. In the 79th minute, Reus beat the Augsburg defence with a brilliant pass to Haaland, who advanced towards goal, looked up, could not see a team-mate in a better position and – perhaps slightly fortuitously – steered the ball past Koubek himself to make it 5-3.
BVB will welcome 1. FC Cologne to Signal Iduna Park on Friday evening (20:30 CET) for their first home game of 2020.