Borussia Dortmund kicked off their 2021/22 UEFA Champions League group stage campaign with a 2-1 (2-0) away victory against Besiktas.
Boris Rupert reporting
Jude Bellingham converted Borussia's first chance in the 20th minute to put his side ahead, before teeing up Erling Haaland for the second on the stroke of half-time. Dortmund kept things tight at the back until the dying embers of an intense second half and ran out deserved winners in the opening game, despite Francisco Montero's late goal.
The two clubs were going head-to-head in an international competition for the first time in 32 years, with the only previous meeting coming in the first round of the 1989/90 Cup Winners' Cup (1-0, 2-1). The Turkish champions had qualified for the group stage for the first time in four years, and the eighth time in total. The Black & Yellows had not conceded a single goal in any of their previous four away games in Turkey – against Besiktas in 1989 and Galatasaray in 1997, 2000 and 2014 – with their record standing at three wins and one draw.
There were two changes compared to Saturday's league game in Leverkusen, with Mats Hummels and Donyell Malen returning to the starting XI and Marin Pongracic and Axel Witsel dropping to the bench.
The home side's transition between 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 formations was seamless and largely determined by Pjanic's position on the pitch. Dahoud returned to the base of the midfield diamond in Dortmund's 4-4-2 formation, with Reus in the No. 10 role and Brandt on the left flank.
The match & analysis:
Kobel stopped his side from falling behind in the sixth minute, pulling off a spectacular save with his right hand to turn Batshuayi's well-placed strike from 12 metres out over the frame of the goal. It was the only time the ball entered either penalty area in an opening 15 minutes in which both teams struggled to create shooting opportunities when in possession – though that could have been down to the large volume of sand on the surface.
Mo Dahoud, who registered 48 ball possessions and ran 6.2km in the opening half (both high scores), proved to be the driving force for Dortmund in the period that followed, initiating the opening goal with a diagonal ball out to Meunier in the 20th minute. The Belgian fed Dahoud's pass to the right flank into the path of the onrushing Bellingham, who took the ball down with his chest and fired into the back of the net from a tight angle.
Aside from an important clearance by Akanji to thwart the threat posed by the presence of Hutchinson (33), every moment of danger took place in the home side's penalty area. First Malen did well to seize the ball on the left corner of the box and then ran into the area before cutting the ball back to Haaland, who missed by some distance (27); then, only 60 seconds later, Brandt flicked Haaland's pass towards Reus, whose shot was cleared by the combined efforts of goalkeeper Destanoglu and defender Welinton.
Reus fired a free kick straight down Destanoglu's throat as the game entered first half stoppage time, then Bellingham comfortably sidestepped Welinton following a throw-in from Guerreiro and cut the ball back from the byline towards Haaland, who made it 2-0 from five metres out (45+3).
Borussia, for whom Witsel replaced Brandt at the break, created several chances in the second period with Guerreiro (52) and Dahoud (53) firing narrowly wide. Though Besiktas made their intention to turn the game around clear, with left-back N’Sakala positioned high up the pitch, they initially struggled to break down a focused Dortmund defence. In a wild phase of the match that saw possession frequently change hands, Malen missed the opportunity to seal the win when he was denied by Destanoglu (67). Kobel then stopped Batshuayi from pulling one back at the other end (68).
Next it was BVB's turn to threaten with Reus finding Haaland, who broke through in inimitable fashion but was kept out by the keeper. Moukoko, who had come on seconds earlier, saw his follow-up effort blocked (71), and then struck the side netting on 88 minutes. Fellow substitute Knauff hit the crossbar in the 92nd minute, before Montero headed home a free-kick to reduce the deficit to 2-1 in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Next up is a Bundesliga home game against Union Berlin on Sunday (17:30 CET).