Borussia Dortmund were beaten 4-3 (2-2) by Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Matchday 21 game of the round. The Black & Yellows were twice ahead in a frenetic Bundesliga encounter – leading first 2-1 and then 3-2 – but ultimately left the BayArena empty-handed.
Boris Rupert reporting from Leverkusen
The 30,210 spectators at a sold-out BayArena witnessed a thrilling match in which Volland's 20th-minute opener for Leverkusen was cancelled out by a Hummels header two minutes later. Can then put the visitors 2-1 ahead (33), only for Volland to restore parity shortly before the break. There was a slew of chances after the interval – Sancho's goal was disallowed, while Reyna and Havertz hit the woodwork at opposite ends – before Guerreiro put BVB 3-2 up (65). But Leverkusen turned the game around with goals from Bailey (81) and Lars Bender (82) in the space of 60 seconds to win 4-3.
Third-placed BVB had won seven of their previous nine Bundesliga meetings with fifth-placed B04 (one draw, one defeat). Moreover, they had lost only once away to the Werkself in the past 12 years (October 2016).
Borussia had travelled to the Rhine without Reus as well as Delaney. There were four changes to the side that lost in the cup to Bremen on Tuesday, with Bürki, Can, Guerreiro and Haaland stepping in for Hitz, Schulz, Reus and Hazard.
Both coaches opted for a rather unexpected formation with Leverkusen in a 3-4-2-1 and Borussia in a 4-3-3 that switched to a 4-1-4-1 without the ball. Witsel, flanked by Brandt and Can, was the sole defensive midfielder protecting a back four of Akanji, Hummels, Zagadou and Guerreiro, while Hakimi, Haaland and Sancho formed the attacking trio. Borussia found good solutions to circumvent the high pressing carried out by four or five Leverkusen players.
The match & analysis:
Dortmund were in the game from the off and came close to taking the lead in the 19th minute, but Leverkusen custodian Hradecky closed down Haaland and parried his shot into the side-netting. The hosts went down the other end and scored immediately – a rather surprising development when you consider that Volland's opener was their first shot of the night. He had been set up by Amiri's precise through-ball from midfield.
The Black & Yellows responded almost straightaway. Brandt's shot was turned behind by Hradecky and the former Leverkusen man went to take the resultant corner from the right but – as had been the case for the previous corner – he was peppered by objects thrown by the home fans and decided to let Sancho take the kick instead. The Englishman produced a pinpoint delivery towards Hummels, who was wearing the captain's armband, and his powerful header made it 1-1 with 22 minutes played. Eleven minutes later, Dortmund were 2-1 ahead thanks to Can's wonder strike from outside the box. The ball curled wickedly and Hradecky couldn't get near it.
BVB almost established a two-goal cushion shortly before the interval when Sancho floated a ball across to Witsel, but his volley from inside the penalty area sailed over (42). The visitors were made to pay 60 seconds later when they failed to clear a corner and Volland smashed home the leveller.
Brandt, who had taken a knock to his foot in the first period, had to go off at the interval and Reyna came on in his stead. For their part, Leverkusen withdrew Bellarabi and replaced him with Weiser, a full-back by trade, in an attempt to nullify Sancho. That plan looked to have failed on the 50-minute mark when the Englishman cut inside and played a one-two with Hakimi before coolly slotting home. But the video assistant intervened and after consulting the monitor himself, referee Schmidt opted to disallow it for a foul by Reyna on Bender in the build-up. But as Nobby Dickel put it on the Net Radio: "Bender fouled Gio first of all, then Gio pulled at him."
Dortmund almost took a 3-2 lead through Reyna on the 58-minute mark, but the youngster was ultimately denied by a combination of Hradecky's fingertips and the post. Six minutes later, Havertz struck the woodwork at the other end after being fed by Volland. Instead, it was BVB who got the next goal in the 65th minute when Hakimi teed up Guerreiro, who sidefooted the ball into the far corner.
Dortmund retreated slightly at this point and reverted to a 4-2-3-1 with Can alongside Witsel in defensive midfield. But within seconds Leverkusen had scored twice. Substitute Bailey curled in the equaliser from the edge of the penalty area in the 81st minute, before Lars Bender rose to head home Sinkgraven's cross 60 seconds later. Favre brought on Hazard and Götze for Akanji and Can, but that final throw of the dice did not yield an equaliser and it finished 4-3.
BVB will next be in Bundesliga action on Friday when they host Eintracht Frankfurt. Kick-off at Signal Iduna Park will be at 20:30 CET.