Borussia Dortmund claimed their fifth win in six Bundesliga matches in 2020 as they beat SV Werder Bremen 2-0 (0-0) away from home to close the gap to the summit.
Boris Rupert reporting from Bremen
In a hard-fought contest, BVB initially struggled to build on their excellent Champions League performance. Indeed, it was not until the second period that the chances and goals came. Dan-Axel Zagadou netted from a corner in the 52nd minute, before Erling Haaland doubled the lead a quarter of an hour later.
Dortmund were travelling to Bremen for the second time this month, having lost 3-2 there in the cup 18 days ago. Although Bremen had scored more goals than Dortmund in their previous 103 Bundesliga clashes, Borussia had won more matches than Werder: 43 for BVB versus 41 for SVW. The Black & Yellows had won five and lost only one of their previous eight visits to the Weser.
Julian Brandt started on the bench, having returned to the squad for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in Leverkusen two weeks ago. Lucien Favre, who was still without Marco Reus and Thomas Delaney, made no changes to the starting XI that beat Paris St. Germain in the Champions League four days ago.
Both teams took to the field in a 3-4-2-1 formation and switched to a back five whenever their opposition had possession. Bremen's approach was to get all their players behind the ball quickly and close down the passing channels. They were happy to let BVB have the ball as long as it wasn't in dangerous areas.
The match & analysis:
Werder made an energetic start to a match initially played in adverse weather conditions – rain and wind. Meanwhile, Borussia took some time to get a foothold in the game and rarely got into dangerous positions, despite having lengthy spells of possession. There was only one occasion in the first half – in the 22nd minute – when they got in behind the Bremen defence, but Hazard's bicycle kick was off target. The first real moment of danger came when Guerreiro had a free-kick kept out by Pavlenka in the 42nd minute. The best chance at the other end came 34 minutes in as Toprak headed a free-kick narrowly wide. But it wouldn't have counted anyway as the offside flag was raised.
It was a defender who both initiated and scored the opener seven minutes into the second period. After a corner had been cleared, Zagadou teed up Haaland for a shot that was deflected behind by Moisander for another corner. Sancho curled it into the centre towards Zagadou, who cleverly escaped his marker and volleyed home to make it 1-0. It was the Frenchman's first goal of the season. Haaland could have doubled the lead three minutes later after being teed up by Guerreiro. He seemed to have the beating of Pavlenka, but the Bremen goalie somehow got a foot to the ball.
Haaland would not have long to wait for his 12th competitive goal in a BVB shirt, however. Ten minutes later, Sancho played an excellent ball to Hakimi on the right. The Moroccan spotted that Haaland had peeled into space on the corner of the six-yard box and cut the ball back from the byline for the Norwegian to fire home. The frontman could have added a third goal for the visitors both in the 80th minute and in second-half stoppage time, but Pavlenka made strong saves to deny him – as he did to keep out Hakimi two minutes from time. The Black & Yellows were certainly closer to a third goal than the Green & Whites were to pulling one back.
BVB are next in action when they welcome SC Freiburg to Signal Iduna Park next Saturday.