Matchday 5 of the Bundesliga season saw Borussia Dortmund beat 1. FC Union Berlin 4-2 (2-0) to claim their fourth victory of the season – and their third on the bounce. The win briefly hung in the balance after Union fought back from three goals down to 3-2.
Boris Rupert reporting
BVB dominated proceedings from the off in front of 25,000 fans at Signal Iduna Park and took an early lead through Raphael Guerreiro’s stunning opener (10). Erling Haaland doubled the advantage midway through the first half (23), before Union captain Marvin Friedrich scored an own goal shortly after the break (52). Five minutes later, Max Kruse pulled one back for Union from the spot. It looked like all would be to play for again after Andreas Voglsammer scored a second for Union with nine minutes to go, only for Haaland to make it 4-2 barely 100 seconds later (83).
This game saw two European participants go head-to-head at the end of an “English week”. BVB went into the game in third place with nine points, while Union had made their best-ever start to a top-flight campaign (eighth with six points). It was the seventh competitive game between the two clubs (four in the Bundesliga, two in the DFB-Pokal). The home team had won on every occasion.
Injuries had reared their ugly head once again, with Brandt, Can, Collins, Coulibaly, Morey, Reyna, Schmelzer, Tigges and Zagadou all sidelined and unavailable to play. That said, Hazard returned for the first time since the opening day (bench). There was one change to the starting XI that played Champions League football in midweek, with Witsel drafted in to replace the injured Brandt.
The personnel shortages – particularly in the wide attacking positions – led to Marco Rose making a tactical change and lining his team up in a 4-3-3 formation for the first time this season. Dahoud and Bellingham occupied the wider midfield positions, flanking the more centrally positioned Witsel. Reus lined up on the right flank, with Malen on the left wing. Union’s broad defensive line would expand into a back five whenever the Black & Yellows had possession of the ball. When building the play themselves, Fischer’s charges played in a 3-4-1-2 with Öztunali bursting forward from the left of centre to support the two forwards (Kruse was slightly deeper than Awoniyi).
The match & analysis:
The ball was already in the back of the BVB net after 44 seconds. Though goalscorer Awoniyi was offside and the goal was disallowed, it was an early indicator of Union’s attacking strategy: feed the strikers quickly and directly whenever they get possession of the ball. The Black & Yellows had more than 80 percent possession in the opening 20 minutes, however, and took the lead with their first shot after 10 minutes. Malen got the better of Ryerson on the left flank, before the advancing Guerreiro played a one-two with Dahoud and volleyed the ball powerfully and precisely into the top corner with his left foot. An absolute dream goal.
The advantage was almost doubled immediately when Haaland headed Reus’ free-kick cross narrowly wide of the mark in the 16th minute. Luthe comfortably gathered Malen’s shot three minutes later – but was beaten again soon afterwards. The second goal was initiated by Hummels winning the ball back from Awoniyi. Dahoud had the vision to pick out Meunier on the right flank and his well-timed cross was headed into the net by the 1.94m-tall Haaland to make it 2-0 (23). Borussia continued to dominate the game up until the half-time whistle.
BVB quickly upped their lead to 3-0 after the break. Bellingham carried the ball down the right wing and drove into the centre before timing a pass into the path of Reus to perfection. The captain squared the ball into the danger zone towards Haaland and Malen, only for Friedrich to turn his attempted clearance into his own net (52). Five minutes later, Witsel brought down substitute Behrens in the box and a penalty kick was awarded following a VAR intervention. Kruse coolly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner. Ryerson then tested Kobel with a powerful strike from 14 metres (68).
The challenge for Borussia was now two-fold: keep the game under control and re-establish the three-goal cushion. But they appeared to be lacking freshness, and conceded a second when Voglsammer headed home a corner in the 81st minute. But the nerves were not jangling for too long: Hummels received the ball in his own half and lofted a precise long-ball into the path of Haaland on the edge of the penalty area. The Norwegian forward held off his marker and caught Luthe off guard with a well-weighted lob that nestled inside the far post (83). Reus saw his free-kick strike the post in the 86th minute, before Ryerson thwarted a spectacular Haaland back-flick that would have sealed his hat-trick (90+1).
For the first time in a month, the Black & Yellows have a normal week of training ahead of them. Next up on the fixture list is a trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday. Kick-off is at 18:30 CET.