Borussia Dortmund missed out on a third victory in a row by drawing 1-1 (0-0) against 1. FSV Mainz 05, but they are now level on points with third-placed Leverkusen in the table.
Boris Rupert reporting
The Black & Yellows took a second-minute lead through Haaland, but the goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee. Borussia created several good chances in the opening half, only to find themselves repeatedly thwarted by the Mainz goalkeeper or – in the case of Bellingham in the 30th minute – the woodwork. Instead, it was Mainz who took a 57th-minute lead through Öztunali. Meunier levelled at 1-1 with 17 minutes to go, but Reus' penalty miss only seconds later cost the hosts a 2-1 win.
Borussia had won three of their previous four Bundesliga matches. The Zero-Fivers, meanwhile, were languishing in 18th place in the table after slipping to a third defeat in succession. There had been a winner in each of the previous nine meetings between the two clubs in Dortmund. On seven of those occasions, it had been BVB.
In addition to Witsel (torn Achilles tendon), Hazard and Schmelzer, BVB were without Piszczek and Reyna (throat infection). He was replaced by Brandt – one of the three changes Edin Terzic made to the starting XI that had won 3-1 away in Leipzig a week earlier. The other new faces were Zagadou and Bellingham, who replaced Akanji and Bellingham respectively.
Dortmund transitioned seamlessly between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations; in the case of the latter, Bellingham pushed up level with Reus behind Sancho, Haaland and Brandt, with Can operating as the sole defensive midfielder. Can and Bellingham were frequently level with each other. Mainz went into the match with a 5-3-2 system – the five-man defence was protected by three midfielders – and aside from the odd venture forward were focused on shoring up their defence. They doubled up on the Black & Yellows on the flanks and instructions such as "compact in the centre!" could frequently be heard from the sidelines.
The match & analysis:
The ball was in the back of the Mainz net within 83 seconds. An early opener might have afforded the home side some space, but the goal was ruled out after being reviewed for several minutes by the video assistant in Cologne. Meunier was deemed to have been offside on the right when Sancho played the ball. The Belgian had then crossed towards Reus, who had teed up Haaland for the goal.
It took at least 20 minutes for BVB to apply pressure and pose a threat to the men from Mainz. Brandt won the ball back and played a one-two with Haaland before going for goal from 14 metres out, but Zentner made a strong save to thwart the danger (23). Minutes later, Can gave chase energetically and regained possession of the ball, which he played beautifully into the path of Reus. The captain tried to dink the ball over Zentner from eight metres out, but once again the Mainz shot-stopper was able to make the save (26). Four minutes later Haaland picked out Bellingham, who was denied a goal when his shot from a centre-right position rebounded off the post (30).
Overall, the Black & Yellows were settling into their flow and creating some highly promising chances by the midway point of the first half. After 40 minutes, Bellingham narrowly missed the target with a header following a Sancho cross. Mainz only threatened on one occasion, though Bürki was on hand to stop Quaison's shot from 18 metres (44). Zagadou was forced off injured before the break and replaced by Akanji.
Borussia kept trying to drag Mainz's lines out of position and create openings by switching the play from side to side. But the opposition kept their discipline, with every single outfield player involved in their structured defensive work. And when they spotted opportunities to get forward, they pushed up. Upon winning the ball back in the centre of midfield in the 57th minute, Latza played the ball forward for Öztunali. He deceived two Dortmund players with a drop of the shoulder before unleashing a left-footed effort from around 20 metres out that flew into the top right corner of the goal. Bürki got his fingertips to it but couldn't keep it out.
Terzic reacted immediately, bringing on a second striker (Moukoko) for Bellingham. The visitors almost doubled their lead shortly afterwards, however, Hack latching on to a free-kick and heading the ball against the crossbar (63).
Borussia took several minutes to find their way back into the game. The lively-looking Moukoko got the better of Niakhaté and cut the ball back from the byline. Mwene's clearance landed at the feet of Meunier, who arrowed a low shot into the bottom corner from 16 metres – 1-1 (73). The chance to turn the game on its head came 60 seconds later when a penalty was awarded for a foul on Meunier by Hack, but Reus shot wide of the goal (76). As the game became stretched, Öztunali struck the post at the other end (78) and Niakhaté ran the length of the field before dragging his shot wide (87).
Next week, the Black & Yellows have two away games against rivals for a place in the UEFA Champions League on the agenda. They will be away to Bayer 04 Leverkusen at 20:30 CET on Tuesday, before travelling to Borussia Mönchengladbach next Friday (also at 20:30 CET).