Borussia Dortmund produced an improved second-half showing that culminated in three late goals as they came from behind to seal a deserved victory in a difficult away match against a strong 1. FC Cologne side on Matchday 2. The victory was the fourth in four competitive games this season for the Black & Yellows, following wins in the Super Cup, DFB Cup and the Bundesliga respectively.
It's difficult to draw conclusions from matches like the one that took place at an atmospheric Rhein-Energie-Stadion on Friday when the season is still so young. But the fact that the players were rather self-critical in the aftermath of their 3-1 triumph shows they believe there is still much work to be done before they fully hit their stride.
Much of the impetus came from the dugout, where Lucien Favre enhanced the reputation he earned last season as the coach who made the most game-changing substitutions. The 18 goals from the bench set a new Bundesliga record. Two matches into the new season and there have already been two more. "The substitutions gave us a lot. It was different, we were suddenly going forward much more," said the Swiss tactician.
Achraf Hakimi and Julian Brandt certainly helped their team turn the tide in their favour. But it's futile discussing whether the match would have taken a different course had they been in the starting XI. Cologne needed to tire themselves out first and that's why it wasn't until the final quarter of the match that spaces and gaps opened up, allowing a BVB side decked out in their black away kits to notch the three late goals that secured their second come-from-behind victory of the season and their seventh in total since Favre took over the reins.
The first BVB goal, which restored parity at 1-1, came from a short corner. It was the first time that Thorgan Hazard, who at Borussia Mönchengladbach last season was one of only two players in the Bundesliga – the other being his new team-mate Jadon Sancho – to reach double figures in both goals and assists, had a direct hand in a Borussia Dortmund goal. The Belgian notched 10 goals and 10 assists last term, while the Englishman racked up 12 and 19 respectively.
Sancho had already had a hand in four of the goals in the 5-1 win over Augsburg (one goal, one direct assist, two indirect assists), and it was the 19-year-old winger who provided the pivotal turning point in the closing stages in Müngersdorf on Friday. He first of all fired home Hazard's pass to make it 1-1 and was then involved in a move with Marco Reus and Julian Brandt that culminated in Lukasz Piszczek breaking down the right flank. The 34-year-old delivered an inch-perfect floated cross towards the far post, where Morocco international Hakimi headed BVB ahead for the first time in the game with four minutes to go. It was his third goal in Black & Yellow.
The rest was a mere formality. A back line brilliantly marshalled by Mats Hummels looked ever-more solid as the match progressed, despite having struggled early on, and the win was sealed when Paco Alcácer rounded off a high-speed counter involving Hakimi and Sancho in stoppage time. It was the Spaniard's fifth goal in four competitive matches this term, and his 21st Bundesliga goal in 28 appearances. Crazy stuff!
Next up on the agenda for the vice champions, who have maximum points from their first two games, is a trip to the capital next weekend for another away match against another promoted side. They can expect another impressive atmosphere, too, when they take on 1. FC Union at the "Alte Försterei" on Saturday evening (18:30 CET).