An Erling Haaland brace was not enough: Borussia Dortmund missed out on a sixth win in their last eight matches in all competitions (D1 L1) as they were held to a 2-2 (1-1) draw away to 1. FC Cologne in their final game before the international break.
Boris Rupert reporting from Cologne
Borussia began brightly and took the lead through Haaland in the third minute. But they dropped off in the period that followed and Duda equalised at 1-1 in the 35th minute, before Jakobs fired the home side 2-1 ahead on the 65-minute mark. Haaland hit the post in the 80th minute, before levelling at 2-2 in the 90th minute.
Fifth-placed Borussia Dortmund were two points behind the Champions League places. Opponents 1. FC Cologne occupied 14th spot and were one point above the relegation play-off place. A 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture this season brought an end to BVB’s run of four consecutive wins and seven matches unbeaten against the men from the Cathedral City.
The Black & Yellows were still without Guerreiro, Sancho, Schmelzer and Witsel, who were joined on the sidelines by Zagadou, Reus and Morey. The latter two were replaced by Meunier and Reyna – the only two changes to the team that had beaten Hertha BSC 2-0 the weekend beforehand. Knauff and Raschl were among the substitutes.
Dortmund lined up in a 4-3-3 with Dahoud continuing in the central role in front of the defence, while Cologne went for a 4-4-2. Drexler and Duda tried to disrupt Borussia’s build-up play, with two banks of four behind them.
The match & analysis:
Dortmund initially attacked in a clear and structured manner and took an early lead: Can played a long ball from deep inside his own half to Haaland, who latched on to it on the right of the Cologne box, beat Meré and then nutmegged goalkeeper Horn. Only two minutes and 50 seconds were on the clock. Hazard soon had a chance to make it 2-0 when Reyna received the ball from Bellingham and squared it, but several Cologne players thwarted his attempt (8).
BVB had everything under control at the outset, dictating the tempo and rhythm while keeping their opponents at arm’s length. But they then dropped off inexplicably. Cologne found a foothold in the game around the 20th minute, enjoying more space and equalising via Duda when Bellingham gave away a penalty for handball (35).
Haaland had missed an opportunity to make it 2-0 directly before Bellingham’s infringement. It would have been a carbon copy of the opener, the move starting with another long ball from Can. Haaland again beat Meré – this time on the left of the box – but his shot sailed narrowly wide of the far post (30).
Once the game went to 1-1, BVB made a clear attempt to re-take control. The Black & Yellows began to link up more quickly and apply greater pressure, and Bellingham was denied by Horn from 15 metres out on 42 minutes.
Borussia Dortmund brought on Moukoko in place of Brandt at the interval. Within 26 seconds, Haaland had another chance but was denied by Horn – although the goal would have been ruled out for offside anyway. At the other end, Hector had a dangerous shooting opportunity – Cologne’s first from opening play – in the 53rd minute. It marked the start of a bright spell for the hosts, in which they threatened the Dortmund goal several times before eventually going 2-1 ahead through Jakobs in the 65th minute. The winger latched on to a through-ball from Drexler on the left of the box, beat Meunier and hammered it into the roof of the net. Directly beforehand, Borussia had twice countered in superior numbers but failed to capitalise.
The spaces naturally became tighter on account of the scoreline. The Black & Yellows, now in a 4-1-3-2 formation, gave it a good go but the rhythm and the dominance with which they had begun the game were long gone. And yet they were not too far from equalising, with Haaland heading Meunier’s cross against the post in the 80th minute.
Directly afterwards, Knauff replaced Meunier for the final 10 minutes of normal time. Hazard took over on the right side of defence. Haaland fired centimetres over the Cologne crossbar in the 84th minute. Then, in the 90th minute, Knauff broke through down the right flank, went past an opponent and fizzed a low cross into the centre towards Haaland, who prodded it home to make it 2-2.
The league will now break for a fortnight and the many internationals in the squad will play up to three games each in the coming 10 days. BVB will then play a run of seven matches in the space of three weeks, beginning with a home game against Eintracht Frankfurt on 3 April.