Borussia Dortmund claimed their first away triumph over TSG Hoffenheim in almost eight years, winning 1-0 (0-0) in the Kraichgau to make it three victories from four matches this season. Substitute Marco Reus scored the winner in the 76th minute.
Boris Rupert reporting from Sinsheim
The 6,000 fans saw both teams squander the chance to open the scoring in the first period. But BVB increasingly took control of the game from the 30th minute onwards and were rewarded for their dominant second-half performance when Marco Reus broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. The failure to convert several opportunities almost proved costly, however, and kept Hoffenheim in with a chance of equalising until the third and final minute of stoppage time.
Sixth-placed Hoffenheim and fifth-placed Borussia Dortmund had both kicked off their campaigns with two wins and a defeat (TSG in Frankfurt and BVB in Augsburg). Including last season, Borussia had triumphed in six of their last seven away games and Hoffenheim in three of their last four home matches. BVB's last victory in Sinsheim came on 16 December 2012 (3-1).
"I've decided to go for freshness," said Lucien Favre prior to kick-off as he reflected on a starting line-up that contained five changes from the team that had beaten Freiburg 4-0 before the international break. Piszczek, Dahoud, Passlack, Sancho and Brandt came in for Akanji (quarantine), Reus (missed several sessions during the break due to injury), Bellingham, Guerreiro and Haaland, who all had busy international breaks. Haaland, for example, played three games in the space of seven days for Norway – one of which lasted 120 minutes. On the injury front, Schmelzer (rehab following knee operation), Schulz (torn muscle fibres) and Zagadou (torn lateral collateral ligament) were unavailable. Ansgar Knauff, 19, was included in a matchday squad for the first time.
Hoffenheim lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with a back four that at times turned into a back five when they didn't have possession of the ball, with Posch tucking in and Rudy slotting in on the right side of defence. BVB, meanwhile, played with three men at the back – even after Piszczek's early injury-enforced substitution that led to him being replaced by Delaney. There were multiple positional changes in Dortmund's 3-5-2 system. Dahoud predominantly played in front of Witsel, almost level with Reyna, while Sancho alternated between midfield and a secondary striker role.
The match & analysis:
It proved to be a match brimming with mistakes on both sides, which was in part attributable to the freshly laid grass. Numerous holes had already appeared in the turf by the time the interval came around and made it difficult for the players on both teams to pick up the pace.
Hoffenheim initially invited the Black & Yellows onto them but they could not find a way through in the opening half hour. One rare exception came when Passlack fed Reyna, who was crucially disrupted six metres from goal. But TSG made a bright start to the game too and had two clear-cut chances through Gacinovic: the Serbian fired left-back Robert Skov's whipped-in cross from the flank wide of the near post on four minutes and then shot too close to Hitz from 15 metres out on the 19-minute mark.
BVB were a man down during that period. Piszczek had been struck in the face by an arm during a coming-together with Posch following a 15th-minute corner and was unable to continue. Delaney came on in his stead in the 20th minute, with Can moving across from the right to the left of the back three.
The Black & Yellows only managed to get into their short-passing rhythm in the final third of the first period. Sancho initially missed from a narrow angle from an unmarked position in the 30th minute – the offside flag was raised shortly afterwards but the TV images did not appear to show an infringement of the rules – and then Reyna went close to scoring. The 17-year-old dribbled into the penalty area and looked to square the ball across the face of goal but Posch dived in with a courageous sliding challenge that pushed it back into the American's path. He tried to go for goal himself, but Skov cleared off the line with goalkeeper Baumann already beaten (35). Shortly afterwards, Meunier headed a Brandt corner kick against the bar (37) and Rudy missed from 12 metres (40).
On the hour mark, Reus and Haaland came on in place of Sancho and Brandt and the Black & Yellows increasingly took charge of the game. They seemed to be coping better with the difficult pitch conditions in the second half. But Hoffenheim kept their defensive discipline and fought valiantly. Reus had a shot from the edge of the area in the 74th minute but Baumann made a spectacular save to keep the scores level. Only seconds later, however, the visitors scored what was a deserved opener. Haaland ran onto a headed flick-on and squared the ball to Reus, who was left with a simple tap-in. Haaland could have doubled the lead in the 76th minute after being played in by fellow substitute Guerreiro, but he fired narrowly wide from a centre-left position.
An exciting finish to the game saw Hitz save from Baumgartner on 82 minutes, before Haaland hit the post at the other end on 83 minutes, Guerreiro fired narrowly wide on 84 minutes and Reyna mised in the 85th after being set up by Guerreiro. The Portuguese created chance after chance and teed up Reus in the 89th minute, only for the captain to curl narrowly wide.
The team will board a plane to Rome on Monday, where they will take on Lazio in their first game of the UEFA Champions League group stages on Tuesday evening (21:00 CET). Next up in the Bundesliga is a home game against FC Schalke 04 next Saturday (24 October, 18:30 CET).