Borussia Dortmund kicked off their 2020/21 UEFA Champions League campaign with a defeat. The German vice champions lost 3-1 (2-0) away to Italian side Lazio.
Boris Rupert reporting
The Rome club, who finished fourth in Serie A last term, took the lead through Immobile with their first shot after six minutes, before Felipe doubled the advantage on 23 minutes. Haaland pulled a goal back in the 71st minute, only for the hosts to re-establish the two-goal cushion and make it 3-1 through Akpa-Akpro five minutes later.
BVB were up against a club from Italy's Serie A for the 36th time – their record prior to kick-off stood at 12 wins, five draws and 18 defeats – although it was only their second-ever meeting with Lazio. The two clubs met 25 years ago, in 1995, in the quarter-finals of the former UEFA Cup (now the Europa League). Having lost the first leg 1-0 in Rome, BVB won the return fixture 2-0. Lazio had followed up their away victory over Cagliari on the opening day of this season with a draw and two defeats. BVB, meanwhile, had kicked off their Bundesliga campaign with three wins and a defeat.
Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre made five changes to the starting XI that won in Hoffenheim, with Reus, Haaland, Bellingham, Guerreiro and Delaney (an early substitute in that game) all reintroduced to the team. Piszczek played despite suffering an eye injury last time out, but Can was suspended and Passlack, Dahoud, Reyna and Brandt dropped to the bench. Akanji, Hazard, Schmelzer, Zagadou and Schulz were still unavailable.
The match & analysis:
Lazio opened the scoring with their first shot – although it was more of a goal gifted to them by Borussia than the result of a well-executed attack. A misplaced pass down the BVB right was intercepted by Correa and he quickly threaded it through to his strike partner Immobile, who took a touch before dinking past Hitz from close range.
Within six minutes Lazio were leading, had won a clear majority of the second balls and were emboldened by the passivity of their visitors. Piszczek did have a chance to level on 12 minutes with a header from the first corner, but Strakosha kept it out. The Italians were more direct, looked for shooting opportunities and did not dither long.
While the Black & Yellows were not able to put either of their first two major opportunities in the opposition goal – Guerreiro was played in by Haaland but kept out by Strakosha's foot (20), before Meunier fired Haaland's cutback wide of the post from eight metres out (28) – the hosts used three of their first five goalscoring chances. After Immobile had been denied by the attentive Hitz (14), Hummels had made a last-ditch effort to thwart his former team-mate (15) and Hitz had made a save to keep out Correa's strike (22), Felipe met Alberto's in-swinging corner-kick with a glancing header from the edge of the six-yard box that flew into the net (23).
Borussia were not exerting enough pressure when their hosts had possession, and a series of Alberto corners whipped in from the left repeatedly posed a threat throughout an unsatisfactory first period for Dortmund.
Bellingham made way for Reyna at the interval. And Lazio – atypically for an Italian club sitting on a lead – continued to leave gaps. Haaland cut in from the right and shot from a central position 15 metres out in the 50th minute, but Strakosha was equal to it. All in all, there were too many mistakes in Borussia's game. They rarely showcased their short passing game, instead playing long and wayward balls more often than not.
Brandt came on to replace Piszczek on the hour-mark. At this point, Borussia switched from their 3-5-2 formation to a back four and grew into the game. Guerreiro narrowly missed on 66 minutes, but Haaland eventually pulled one back in the 71st minute when he slammed home Reyna's cross to make it 2-1.
Lazio, however, took a 3-1 lead with their first attack of the second half. Immobile played the ball into the middle and the substitute Akpa-Akpro tapped it in (76). The Italians subsequently sat deep and fervently defended their lead.
Next on the agenda for the Black & Yellows are two home games. They will welcome Schalke 04 to Signal Iduna Park on Saturday (18:30 CET) and Zenit St. Petersburg next Wednesday (21:00 CET).