Borussia Dortmund kicked off the 60th Bundesliga season with a 1-0 (1-0) victory over Bayer Leverkusen and set a new league record for successive opening-day wins in the process (eight).
Boris Rupert reporting
The game was not only billed as a "top match" – it turned out to be one too! 81,365 spectators saw an intense, fast-paced encounter in which BVB took the lead through Reus after exactly 10 minutes. Leverkusen went in search of an equaliser in the second period but the Black & Yellows held on to their lead in what was a breath-taking atmosphere.
The visitors to SIGNAL IDUNA PARK for the season opener were a team that finished third last season and last lost a Bundesliga away game in February (3-2 in Mainz), though they did recently lose 4-3 away to third-tier Elversberg in the DFB-Pokal. Borussia were on a run of six straight home wins over Bayer (with at least three goals scored in each victory) heading into the 2021/22 season, but lost 5-2 at home last time out.
It was the same XI that started the second half of the cup tie away to TSV 1860 Munich, with Hummels on the field in place of the injured Süle. Also among the absentees were Haller and Rothe. Passlack and Reyna (both substitutes) returned to the squad.
Both teams took to the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation with the attacking wide players advancing very high up the pitch. Leverkusen opted for a high pressing game involving four players, though BVB were mostly able to play their way through the press. Borussia reverted to a 4-4-2 system when without the ball, with Reus then alongside Moukoko.
The match & analysis:
The high pressing from the visitors made for a very intense match in which possession often changed hands, but BVB held firm for the most part and took the lead through a pressing sequence of their own! Bellingham won the ball back off Tah and Moukoko got the better of Tapsoba on the left of the penalty area before fizzing the ball towards Adeyemi at the far post. His shot was saved by Hradecky on the goal-line but Reus pounced, beat Hincapie to the loose ball and prodded it over the line at full stretch (10).
The action swung to and fro in an exhilarating opening half. But the defensive ranks held firm and it took until the 20th minute for Schick to fire the ball narrowly wide from a centre-left position in the box 17 metres out, as Reus did soon afterwards. Both teams had to make early substitutions: Andrich was the unlucky party for Leverkusen (13), while Adeyemi could not continue for BVB. He was replaced by Hazard in the 23rd minute. BVB defended with great focus and the one time they did let their guard down, Dahoud intervened to deny Schick (42). At the other end, the ubiquitous Bellingham posed a threat with a shot from distance (43).
Hazard could have extended the narrow but deserved lead four minutes after the restart, but was denied by Hradecky from close range after being set up by Malen. An unpunished foul on Schlotterbeck subsequently led to a huge opportunity for Leverkusen to restore parity. Schick went clean through but Kobel was on hand to keep out his strike from 17 metres. Palacios headed the rebound into the goal but it was ruled out for offside (53). Ten minutes later, Diaby picked out the run of Schick with a cross but the forward fired straight at Kobel from point-blank range. The goalkeeper intervened outstandingly to thwart Schick again a short while later (68). Leverkusen were in the ascendancy at this point, with the chance count standing at 4-4. BVB initially could not free themselves from the stranglehold, and Leverkusen levelled again – only to be denied by the linesman's flag once more (80).
Terzic switched to a back five in the closing stages. Substitute Wolf came close to doubling the lead, only for his curling effort from distance to sail just wide of the target (85). Hradecky saved Bellingham's deflected shot (88), but the Leverkusen goalkeeper was then sent off in stoppage time for clearly handling the ball outside the penalty area. The decision was made following a video review and BVB were awarded a free-kick that went over the bar (90+5).
BVB are away to Sportclub Freiburg this coming Friday evening. Kick-off is at 20:30 CET.