Borussia Dortmund stay in the race for Champions League qualification with a third win in a row! On Matchday 30 of the Bundesliga, BVB earned a hard-fought 2-0 (1-0) victory against Union Berlin.

Boris Rupert reports

Union Berlin struck the bar and the post through Ingvartsen in the first half and Kruse in the 66th minute, but it was BVB who celebrated thanks to Reus' energetic follow-up to make it 1-0 after Luthe had parried a Haaland penalty on 27 minutes, and the late decider of this tight match when Guerreiro found the net two minutes before the final whistle.


The scenario:  
Fifth against eighth. Three places and six points separated the two teams, who had earned an almost equal number of points before the winter break (Dortmund 29, Berlin 28 points). All three Bundesliga games so far have gone to the home side, with the away team never even managing to take the lead.

Personnel matters: 
After a seven-week break, Sancho was back. On the other hand, Bürki (a slight cold) and Knauff were out of the squad, along with Delaney, Moukoko, Schmelzer, Witsel and Zagadou. Three days after the 4-1 victory against Bremen, there were three changes to the starting eleven: Piszczek, Can and Hazard replaced Morey, Dahoud and Brandt (who all dropped to the bench).

In Borussia's 4-3-3 formation, Can took over the central defensive role in the midfield and frequently dropped in between the central defenders in the build-up play, allowing both full backs to get forward. Union lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, initially with very high and aggressive pressing and consistently looked to switch the ball to the wings after gaining possession. Andrich often broke out of the midfield four to attack the ball-carrying BVB players. Kruse switched between midfield and attack and was frequently involved in Berlin's build-up play.

The match & analysis:
Just 15 seconds had passed when Hitz could only look on as a shot from Ingvartsen (resulting from a misplaced pass in the build-up) whistled past him. The ball struck the underside of the bar and bounced back away from the goal. A stroke of luck! A big one! Shortly afterwards, Endo found himself in space on the left, but his shot was horribly off target. At that point, just 61 seconds had been played! 

The team had been prepared for Union's approach by the coaching staff. It took about ten minutes for BVB to get into the game, blocking off the opposition's passing and running lanes more effectively, and also improving in the attacking third. Reus, however, did not strike the ball properly from about 12 metres out on the 10-minute mark after Hazard's through ball. Still, it was the first dangerous attempt on goal and was followed four minutes later by a well struck shot from Hazard, which Luthe could only parry with some difficulty. Haaland showed great energy as he shook off two Berliner defenders to set up Reyna, who also tested Luthe after 16 minutes.


Then, in the 27th minute, Hazard played in Reus, who dribbled across the penalty area and was brought down by Luthe's hip and hand. Referee Schlager had a tough decision, but gave the penalty. Haaland stepped up, Luthe guessed correctly and made the save. Haaland followed up, Luthe parried his shot once again, but Reus was in the right place at the right time and put the ball over the line.

Except for a shot by Musa that hit side netting after 29 minutes (the offside flag went up anyway), Borussia didn't allow their opponents any more chances in that first half. BVB went into the break having registered 9 shots to Berlin's 4, including a huge chance for Haaland from seven metres out having been set up by Reyna, which Luthe parried with his foot on 35 minutes.

The first few seconds of the second half also went to the away side, who twice looked dangerous in front of the goal. At the other end, Reyna was badly taken out by Knoche to thwart a counter-attack. Shortly afterwards, the youngster had the chance to make it 2-0. After a strong combination involving Haaland and Reus, Reyna lifting the ball over Luthe from the edge of the six-yard box, but his shot went just past the far post after 49 minutes.

After just under an hour, Dahoud and Sancho came on for Can and Hazard. Borussia then came close to making it 2-0 in this intense, tight game. Sancho played the ball to Guerreiro in the penalty area, who did well in a tight space, passing to Reyna just before the ball went out of play, but Reyna's shot was stopped by a Berlin defender on the goal line after 64 minutes. Two minutes later, Kruse hit the right post of the Dortmund goal with a free kick from 23 metres – Hitz got a decisive fingertip on the ball to tip it on to the post!

The Köpenicker increasingly took control as the game went on. There were opportunities on the counter-attack, but they were not used decisively enough at first – likely a consequence of the packed fixture schedule in recent weeks. And yet there were chances – huge chances! Friedrich tipped Sancho's shot out for a corner with five minutes to go, then just seconds later, Haaland failed to beat Luthe from the inside left, the Berlin keeper blocking the ball with his foot after 86 minutes. But then Borussia could finally celebrate: Sancho picked up the ball deep in his own half, Haaland knocked it on to Brandt, who played in Guerreiro to make it 2-0 after 88 minutes.

In total, BVB had 12 chances to their opponents' 3, Haaland having also narrowly missed in injury time – but it was a close game.

On Saturday, BVB will travel to play VfL Wolfsburg. Kick-off is 15:30 CET. Hummels, who saw fifth yellow card of the season, will be suspended for the game.

Teams & goals