Borussia Dortmund are back to winning ways in the Bundesliga. The Black & Yellows put the 2-1 home defeat by FC Salzburg in the UEFA Europa League three days ago behind them by beating Eintracht Frankfurt – one of their direct rivals for the Champions League – 3-2 (1-0) on Matchday 26 thanks to two late goals from substitute Michy Batshuayi!
Boris Rupert reporting
In an interesting encounter watched by a sell-out crowd of 81,360 at Signal Iduna Park, BVB delivered a strong display in the opening half-hour and took the lead on 11 minutes when Russ beat Reus to an excellent Pulisic cross only to bundle it into his own net. But the Black & Yellows did not manage to double their advantage with one of the four further chances they created before the interval and once the second period got under way they came under increasing pressure, eventually conceding to Jovic on 74 minutes. Batshuayi re-established the lead barely two minutes later, before Blum again drew the visitors level in stoppage time. But then Batshuayi fired home the winner with the last kick of the game to send the Signal Iduna Park faithful into raptures.
Prior to kick-off, third-placed Borussia Dortmund and fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt were only separated by goal difference. BVB had more victories (42) and home wins (31) against SGE than any other club. In addition, they had won their previous six home games against the Eagles, scoring 19 and conceding three in the process.
Peter Stöger – who was still without the quartet of Kagawa (ankle), Yarmolenko (foot tendon injury), Durm (torn lateral collateral ligament in ankle) and Rode (rehab) – made four changes to the team that was beaten 2-1 by Salzburg, bringing in Akanji, Philipp, Pulisic and Piszczek to replace Sokratis, Batshuayi, Götze and Weigl (all substitutes).
Borussia lined up in an offensively versatile 4-2-3-1 formation in which Reus (or Philipp) repeatedly looked to get forward in support of lone frontman Schürrle. Only Pulisic consistently maintained the same position on the right flank. They were supported by the defensive midfield duo of Dahoud and Castro. Without the ball, Frankfurt formed a back five that was protected by two defensive midfielders (Boateng/Hasebe), but they were by no means negative, moving up upon winning possession and switching to a 3-5-2 system. Wolf played in the hole behind the forwards, while Boateng was the pacesetter and the most important switch player.
The match & analysis:
Frankfurt's positive attitude meant that from the off it was an open, interesting and fast-paced match full of intense tackling and frantic goal-mouth action, although in the first half the moments of danger occurred exclusively in the Eintracht box. The first came in the seventh minute when the visitors failed to properly clear a Schmelzer cross, with Reus hitting a volley from around eight metres out that sailed narrowly wide. BVB were making a visible effort to keep the tempo high – allowing them to create several other clear-cut opportunities in the opening stages. They next threatened when Pulisic sprinted down the right flank and sent a precise cross into the centre, but Schürrle's header flew a matter of centimetres wide of the upright (10).
Russ beats Reus to ball – but scores own goal
But it was to be third time lucky as the Black & Yellows took an early and deserved lead from their next chance. Dahoud played an excellent ball towards the right flank for Pulisic, who whipped a cross into the middle and Russ, in an attempt to beat Reus to the ball, bundled it into his own net (12). Schürrle then had a shot blocked for a corner (21) and Reus shot narrowly off-target from Pulisic's pass (22) as the hosts spurned the opportunity to double their advantage in a frantic opening-half hour in which they were by far the superior side.
Despite having seven players in defensive positions when they didn't have possession, Frankfurt struggled to contain a BVB attack that repeatedly put them under pressure and won the ball back. It was a refreshing performance that, at times, was met by standing ovations from the crowd. In the opening half-hour, the shot count was 8-1.
But Borussia, for whom Weigl replaced the yellow-carded Dahoud at the interval, had to fend off an SGE fightback at the start of the second half. Boateng tried his luck with a back-flick from a corner (48) – but Bürki reacted excellently – and might have scored three minutes later had Piszczek not made an important clearance. There was little of BVB's flowing football from the opening 25 minutes to be seen, in part because Eintracht left less space. By the 65-minute mark, the men from Hesse were only narrowly behind in terms of shots (9-7) – but the score was still 1-0.
Batshuayi with late two-goal salvo
With a quarter of an hour remaining, however, Jovic headed home a de Guzman free-kick to level at 1-1. It seemed to be just the wake-up call that BVB needed. Barely 120 seconds later, Batshuayi re-established their lead following a one-two with Pulisic – and the Belgian might have made it 3-1 six minutes from time when the hosts countered, only for Abraham to thwart the danger. By this point, Borussia were making an impact on the game and were looking proactive rather than simply reactive. But they couldn't stop the visitors from again pegging them back when da Costa's cross was not cleared properly and Blum slotted home the equaliser (90+1).
But there was still time for one final twist: in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Piszczek played the ball into the box and Batshuayi controlled it with his chest before turning and firing the winner into the top-left corner!
BVB will travel to FC Salzburg on Thursday evening (kick-off 21:05 CET), before welcoming Hannover 96 to Signal Iduna Park in their next Bundesliga outing on Sunday (kick-off 13:30 CET).