BVB claim 2-1 win courtesy of Yarmolenko and Kagawa
Borussia Dortmund will head into the international break as league leaders after continuing their record-breaking start to the Bundesliga season with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at FC Augsburg.
Boris Rupert reporting from Augsburg
The 30,660 spectators at a sold-out WWK Arena witnessed an action-packed match in which Borussia Dortmund were deservedly 2-1 ahead at the interval, having scored through Yarmolenko (4) and Kagawa (23) either side of Augsburg's leveller through Caiuby (11). The hosts were dominant after the restart and came close to equalising on several occasions, while Aubameyang squandered a chance to put the game to bed when he missed from the spot in the 79th minute.
The scenario: There had never been such a high-profile clash between the two teams: the hosts sat fifth in the table, while the visitors occupied top spot. FCA had only lost one of their previous ten matches, while BVB had made their best-ever start to a season with 16 points and a 19-1 goal difference.
Personnel matters: Having started two games (Gladbach and Madrid) in three days, Mario Götze did not make the trip to Bavaria. The World Cup-winner has also declined to represent Germany over the international break after consulting with his coaches. "We need to be careful," said Bosz. "It's important that he doesn't get injured again. I'm happy that he's not playing for the national team again just yet." There were five changes to the XI that started against Madrid in the Champions League, with Bartra, Weigl, Dahoud, Kagawa and Pulisic replacing Toprak, Sahin, Götze, Castro and Philipp. Reus, Guerreiro, Schürrle, Rode and Durm were all still sidelined with injuries.
Tactics: Dortmund lined up in their 4-3-3 system, while Augsburg opted for a 4-2-3-1 setup that involved more than simply sitting back. When the opportunity arose, the hosts tried to get forward via their quick wingers Heller and Caiuby. For the most part, however, Augsburg's front three – which featured Gregoritsch in a central role – had defensive duties to fulfil and did not shy away from flying into tackles.
The match & analysis: BVB, who had yet to taste defeat in Augsburg (four victories, two draws), made a lively start to this action-packed encounter. Yarmolenko missed the chance to play in Dahoud, who found himself in space, from the byline in the second minute, instead trying – unsuccessfully – to pick out Aubameyang. Kagawa had a shot from almost 20 metres 60 seconds later, but Hitz pushed it away for a corner. The Japan international took the ensuing set-piece and when Augsburg failed to clear, Yarmolenko backflicked the ball past several opponents to make it 1-0 in the fourth minute.
Yarmolenko opens scoring with backflick
BVB were in the ascendancy but they were caught napping in the 11th minute when Max found himself in space down the left. The full-back crossed in towards Caiuby, who took advantage of the disorganisation in the BVB defence to head home the leveller.
Augsburg, who were unbeaten in six games on home turf, were tough into the tackle – sometimes excessively so – yet referee Fritz missed the chance to set the tone for the match by dishing out a few early bookings. When the game was not interrupted by one of Augsburg's 11 fouls in the opening half, Borussia Dortmund looked fluid going forward and came close when an Aubameyang effort from 15 metres was saved by Hitz on the quarter-hour mark.
Kagawa re-establishes lead with outstanding strike
But the visitors eventually re-established their lead in the 23th minute when Aubameyang and Yarmolenko combined to pick out Kagawa, who made it 2-1 with a stroke of genius – the deftest of chips into the top corner – from a centre-right position.
Aubameyang had an excellent chance to add another in the 32nd minute but he was thwarted in a one-on-one by Augsburg shot-stopper Hitz, who was also on hand to deny Dahoud two minutes before the break. Kagawa then missed from inside the box in first-half stoppage time. But having absolutely dominated in terms of shots (10-3) and possession (73 percent), Borussia Dortmund only had a 2-1 lead to show for their efforts at the break.
BVB the superior side in opening half
However, the Black & Yellows were unable to continue in the same vein after the restart: they looked uneasy in possession, were forced into long balls and were put under pressure at the back. Baier had a long-range effort that went narrowly over in the 53rd minute, before Bürki made a stunning save to deny Caiuby's header on the hour mark.
Fritz finally gave his first yellow card of the afternoon in the 63rd minute for a harsh foul by Caiuby on Yarmolenko, who was unable to continue. It was not the first Augsburg foul that deserved to be punished, and it would not be the last either.
Augsburg press, Aubameyang misses from the spot
BVB created their first shooting opportunity of the second period on the 71-minute mark when Pulisic sent a dangerous cross into the box, only for Hitz to make an excellent save to stop Aubameyang from making it 3-1 with a header six metres out.
Augsburg had another chance a short while later, but a Dortmund defender managed to clear the ball away for a corner. But before the set-piece could be taken, referee Fritz went pitchside to consult the VAR and decided to retrospectively award Borussia Dortmund a penalty for a foul by Koo on Piszczek during the previous attack. Unfortunately, Aubameyang's chipped spot-kick in the 79th minute was straight at Hitz as the visitors squandered another chance to put the game to bed.
A game of two halves
The hosts' second-half dominance began to show towards the end: the shot count stood at a much closer 9-13 by the 85th minute, while they had more of the ball too. Meanwhile, BVB's possession had decreased from 75 to 63 percent, though the visitors still managed to see out seven minutes of injury time and take all three points.
Prospects: Another run of seven games in the space of 22 games will begin for BVB when they play host to Rasenballsport Leipzig on 14 October. The few players not on international duty will be given a break to rest over the coming days.