Borussia Dortmund kept in touch with the Champions League places courtesy of a 4-1 (3-1) home victory over fellow DFB Cup semi-finalists Werder Bremen on Matchday 29 of the Bundesliga season.
Boris Rupert reporting
BVB fell behind to Rashica’s 14th-minute opener, but then scored three times in the space of nine minutes to take a 3-1 lead in at half-time. Reyna equalised with a spectacular strike from 16 metres out (29), before Haaland slotted home from the spot (34) and then tapped in from close range (38) to put the Black & Yellows on the path to victory. Hummels added another on 87 minutes to complete the 4-1 win.
Sixth versus 13th. Werder remained four points above the relegation play-off place following the Saturday games, while Borussia Dortmund were still seven points adrift of the Champions League berths and only one point behind fifth place.
BVB went into the game without Delaney, Moukoko, Sancho, Schmelzer, Witsel and Zagadou. There were two changes to the starting XI that lost 2-1 to Manchester City four days ago, with Reyna and Brandt replacing Can and Knauff (both substitutes).
As a result, the line-up was a tad more attack-minded than in recent outings. The Black & Yellows took to the field in a 4-3-3 formation with Dahoud in a central role in front of the defence, flanked by Brandt and Bellingham, while wing forwards Reyna and Reus frequently switched sides. Werder adopted a 5-3-2 formation whenever they lost possession and looked to switch the play quickly after winning the ball back.
The match & analysis:
BVB, who had lost only one of their previous 12 Bundesliga matches against Werder (eight wins & three draws), were dealt an early blow as Bremen scored from their second counter-attack. The Green & Whites played a long pass from inside their own half and, though Hummels won the aerial battle on the halfway line, Eggestein then played the ball through to Rashica, who could not be stopped and fired into the far corner to make it 1-0 (14).
Brandt almost put the home side on level terms immediately with a volleyed effort that sailed narrowly wide of the Bremen goal (16). All in all, though, Dortmund’s play was too cumbersome to begin with, their build-up play too slow. Despite controlling possession (88% after a quarter of an hour), the hosts failed to make much of it, while the visitors continued to counter with purpose – almost exclusively down the right.
The move for the leveller started with Morey, who contolled the ball on the right before cutting inside. Bremen’s defence was pulled out of position, and Reyna exploited the gap with a powerful effort from the edge of the box to make it 1-1 (29). Two minutes later, Reus was fouled by Möhwald and a penalty was awarded. Haaland comfortably slotted home to make it 2-1 (34). Werder’s control now began to slip and spaces opened up, which Reyna took advantage of four minutes later. His cross ricocheted across the box and Haaland tapped home the third (38). Reyna then made another unstoppable run to tee up Bellingham, who would have added a fourth had Pavlenka not made a superb stop.
BVB brought on Piszczek for Morey at the break and had a double opportunity through Reus soon afterwards. Pavlenka first turned his powerful strike behind for a corner (55); then the BVB captain received the ball outside the penalty area, but his shot from a centre-left position 18 metres out went narrowly wide.
Werder abandoned their restraint around the hour-mark and suddenly looked dangerous. Eggestein struck the woodwork (63), then Hummels cleared a dangerous-looking cross as Rachica prepared to pull the trigger. At the other end Reyna played a perfect ball into the path of Haaland, who managed to free himself from two opponents but could not force his way past Pavlenka, who got a foot to the ball on the penalty spot (64).
But such chances became fewer and farther between against a now high-pressing Bremen side on the hunt for a goal that would bring them back into the game. The unmarked Sargent fired over from a highly promising position (73), and was played in by Eggestein again seconds later. Hitz made a save to turn the ball behind for a corner. Then, in the 80th minute, Selke headed narrowly over.
Haaland’s headed goal from Reus’ free-kick was disallowed for offside (82), meaning that Werder remained in the game against a Dortmund team that was starting to tire. Reyna went close with a header (84), then Pavlenka turned Haaland’s effort behind for a corner with his foot (86). Hazard took it, with Hummels winning the aerial battle and heading goalbound. Gebre Selassie and Pavlenka got in each other’s way, and the ball ended up in the back of the net (87).
BVB will welcome Union Berlin to Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday evening (20:30 CET), before travelling to Wolfsburg on Saturday.