Batshuayi scores again on home debut as BVB see off HSV 2-0
Borussia Dortmund continued their upswing in form with a convincing 2-0 (0-0) victory over Hamburg on Matchday 22 of the Bundesliga campaign. Batshuayi (49) and Götze (90+2) got the goals on Reus' return from injury as the Black & Yellows recorded a deserved win and moved back up to third in the table following Leverkusen's defeat in Berlin.
Dennis-Julian Gottschlich reporting
An extremely defensively-minded Hamburg side, decked out in red and white, made life difficult for the Black & Yellows in front of 81,360 fans at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. While both teams managed four shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes, neither Bürki nor his opposite number Mathenia had a single save to make. But Peter Stöger's charges grew into the game after the restart and broke the deadlock thanks to a Batshuayi tap-in four minutes into the second period, with Götze adding another to seal the three points in injury time (90+2).
The scenario: Fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund had scored at least three goals in each of their previous four meetings with 17th-placed HSV. If BVB won, it would be the first time ever they had beaten HSV five times in a row. In addition, it would be the Black & Yellows' 500th home victory in the Bundesliga (in their 859th game).
Personnel matters: BVB were without seven players (Guerreiro, Schmelzer, Sancho, Philipp, Yarmolenko, Rode and Durm), while Papadopoulos, Müller and Thoelke were missing for HSV. Reus made his comeback 259 days after tearing his cruciate ligament in the DFB Cup final and wore the captain's armband. Götze started as a substitute after overcoming his own injury problem, while Sokratis (infection) and Dahoud dropped to the bench. The Greece international was replaced by Akanji, who was making his first start for the club at centre-back.
Tactics: BVB took to the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation in which the extremely agile Reus, who had been given free rein, lined up in the centre of the attacking midfield triumvirate. He was flanked by Pulisic and Schürrle, who often cut inside to make space for the full-backs to overlap. Kagawa played alongside Weigl in defensive midfield but played considerably further forward when the hosts had the ball. HSV tried to make themselves compact, with two defensive-midfielders in front of a back five. Upon regaining possession, they switched from their 5-2-1-2 system to a 3-2-3-2.
The match & analysis: The returning Reus made his first contribution when he played Schürrle in down the left flank with a lovely ball in the second minute, but Mavraj dispossessed the winger in the box. It was to be Dortmund's only real attack of note for quite some time, as HSV closed down space with their five-man rearguard, cut off the flanks and almost completely marked Batshuayi, the lone frontman, out of the game. But there were even fewer moments of danger at the other end. Walace attempted a shot from distance on the 14-minute mark after Bürki had come racing off his line to make a clearance and inadvertently played the ball straight into the path of the Brazilian, but the shot was well wide.
Despite the Black & Yellows having much more of the ball, the majority of the play was in the central third of the pitch. Only when the hosts occasionally managed to break through down the wings was there any sense of danger. One such example came after 23 minutes when Toljan crossed from the left, but Batshuayi was unable to steer the ball goalbound. Wood had perhaps Hamburg's best opportunity on the half-hour mark, only for Piszczek to throw himself in the way of the shot from 13 metres and Walace blazed the follow-up over the bar (30). With half-time fast approaching, BVB worked their way into the HSV box with a lovely move involving Batshuayi, Reus and Pulisic before Sakai ultimately managed to thwart the danger.
The Westphalians went up several notches after the restart and took the lead within minutes. Piszczek picked out Reus, who in turn found Pulisic with a through-ball. The USA international drilled a low ball across the face of goal and Batshuayi timed his run perfectly to escape his marker Mavraj at the back post and slot home (49). It was the Belgian's first home goal for the club, having previously notched two goals and an assist on his debut last week. A short while later Reus brilliantly picked out Schürrle, whose curling effort was cleared by Mathenia. But Dahoud, who had replaced Kagawa after the latter had taken a knock, recycled the attack and played a chest-high ball towards the right goalpost, where Pulisic attacked it but could not keep his shot on target (63).
Götze with virtually the last kick of the game
Barely two minutes had passed when BVB launched their next attack on the HSV goal. This time it was Batshuayi's turn to play in Pulisic, who spotted the run of Schürrle to his left and perfectly timed his pass to the winger. Mathenia, however, sensed the danger, sprinting off his line and thwarting the opportunity at the last second as Schürrle prepared to shoot (65). Around the 73-minute mark, Hamburg twice threatened the Dortmund goal. The first time Bürki cleared a shot from Hahn, who was involved again moments later when he picked out Arp on the right. Borussia didn't manage to completely clear the low cross but Salihovic fired the follow-up well over the frame of Bürki's goal. A short while later both Dahoud and Pulisic spurned the chance to kill the game for the hosts (76). HSV battled resiliently but BVB held firm and deservedly doubled their lead in injury time when Götze, having received a delightful pass from Schürrle, found the net (90+2).
Prospects: Borussia Dortmund's Europa League campaign gets underway on Thursday (19:00 CET) when they play host to Italian outfit Atalanta. They are next in action in the Bundesliga on Sunday (18 February, 18:00 CET) when they visit Borussia Mönchengladbach.