Borussia Dortmund won 2-0 (1-0) away to 1. FC Union Berlin on Bundesliga Matchday 24 and picked up three important points in the race for fourth place following two winless matches.

Boris Rupert reporting from Berlin

BVB struggled to settle into the game in front of 22,012 fans at a sold-out Stadion an der Alten Försterei but then earned themselves a half-time lead when Karim Adeyemi fired home Dortmund's third chance with a glorious shot into the roof of the net in the 41st minute. Ian Maatsen then wrapped up the victory with a goal in the final minute.

The scenario:  
Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Union Berlin had previously met competitively on nine occasions. With one exception (BVB in February 2022), the home team had always been victorious. The Berlin outfit were unbeaten in four rounds of matches and had even won four of their previous five games on home turf. Borussia were undefeated in six matches on the road.

Personnel matters:
Gregor Kobel, Felix Nmecha and Sébastien Haller were joined on the sidelines by Donyell Malen (suspended). Karim Adeyemi was back in the starting XI for the first time since 11 November 2023. Niklas Süle also started in place of Marco Reus.

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Tactics:   
Union lined up in a 3-3-2-2 formation – with two attacking midfielders behind the strike partnership – and transitioned to a 5-4-1 system defensively. The Dortmund player in possession was pressed tightly and quickly, while the eight Berlin players positioned around the box made the space in the danger zone immensely tight. In Dortmund's 4-2-3-1, Can dropped between the centre-backs during build-up; Maatsen stayed on the left side like he did against Hoffenheim.

The match & analysis:
Union allowed Borussia to have the ball and chased energetically when a promising opportunity arose. In one such instance in the sixth minute, Tousart got the ball in a centre-right position in the box but fired narrowly wide of the far post. The hosts were quickly 3-0 up in terms of shots. Union covered the length of the pitch with two or three passes but were particularly dangerous down the right. BVB attacked too chaotically and thus too imprecisely. Even promising counters fizzled out.

It was not until the first corner that BVB posed a threat and almost went 1-0 up. Adeyemi flicked on Brandt's cross with a header and the unmarked Schlotterbeck shot at goal, but was denied by a strong save from Rönnow (35), who had to show all of his goalkeeping capabilities once again three minutes later. He found himself diving towards the wrong corner after Maatsen's shot from 16 metres out took a deflection, but still managed to get hold of the ball. Dortmund were now playing better and with more purpose: Füllkrug fed the ball to Adeyemi from outside the box on the right in the 41st minute and he took a few steps inside before striking a precise shot in off the underside of the ball with his left foot to make it 1-0. A good omen: this fixture had always been won by the team that had taken a 1-0 lead.

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BVB restarted brightly and almost took a 2-0 lead seven minutes into the second period. Adeyemi won the ball back and Sancho played it into the path of Füllkrug, who asserted himself on the left of the box and struck a powerful shot but it could not beat Rönnow. His opposite number was called into action for the first time shortly afterwards: the situation seemed to be resolved only for Volland to get a shot away from the penalty spot, but Meyer raised his right arm to make the save (56).

It continued to be a hard but fair battle in the period that followed. Union made four changes, predominantly attacking ones; Borussia reacted by bringing on Özcan. It was now an end-to-end affair. But the Black & Yellows held their own, physically too. The capital club pressed once again for the equaliser but Maatsen won the ball back in the opposition half in the final minute and rounded off a solo run with a goal to make it 2-0.

Outlook:
The away fixture in Berlin was the first of two consecutive away matches in the Bundesliga: Borussia will pay a visit to Bremen next Saturday (kick-off at 18:30 CET).

Teams & goals

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Bundesliga Matchday 24
1. FC UNION BERLIN 0-2 (0-1) BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Union Berlin: Rönnow – Doekhi, Vogt, Diogo Leite (Bedia, 80) – Juranovic, Khedira (Trimmel, 69), Roussillon (Aaronson, 69) – Tousart (Haberer, 62), Schäfer – Volland, Hollerbach (Vertessen, 62)
Bor. Dortmund: Meyer– Ryerson, Süle, Schlotterbeck, Maatsen – Sabitzer, Can – Adeyemi (Bynoe-Gittens, 78), Brandt (Özcan, 66), Sancho (Bensebaini, 88) – Füllkrug
Substitutes: Schwolow, Knoche, Kral, Laidouni – Lotka, Hummels, Reus, Wolf, Duranville, Moukoko
Goals: 0-1 Adeyemi (Füllkrug, 41), 0-2 Maatsen (90)
Corners: 8-7 (4-2 at half-time), chance ratio: 3-5 (1-3)
Referee: Dingert (Lebecksmühle), yellow cards: Haberer, Vertessen – Ryerson
Attendance: 22,012 (sold-out), weather: cloudy with sunny intervals, 12 degrees