Against a tough Sporting Lisbon team on the road, Borussia Dortmund hung on by the skin of their teeth for a 2-1 win over the Portuguese side. Dortmund’s two goals both came in the first half, the opener from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, followed up by a wonderful strike from Julian Weigl for his first ever goal in the black and yellow.
#BVB lineup: Bürki; Ginter, Sokratis, Bartra, Passlack; Weigl; Pulisic, Kagawa, Götze, Dembele; Aubameyang.
— Stefan Buczko (@StefanBuczko) October 18, 2016
Dortmund were given a boost by the returns of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Marc Bartra to the starting XI, but were without Marcel Schmelzer, who had picked up a groin injury against Hertha BSC over the weekend. Felix Passlack, a usual right-back, flipped over to the left side and looked surprisingly out of tune on the opposite flank.
Aubameyang’s early goal in the 9th minute helped smooth over a rough start from Dortmund, as Sporting pressed high up the pitch. After spurning countless chances at the weekend against Hertha, it was a big relief for both Dortmund fans and Aubameyang himself to score on the first chance of the game. His pace was the difference-maker, as he took a heavy touch that allowed him to blow past Sporting defender Ruben Semedo. Unsurprising to anyone familiar with Aubameyang’s style, he decided to chip the keeper to finish off the move.
The opener was assisted by Mario Gotze, who completed 90 minutes for the first time for Dortmund this season. It was a much better performance than his previous one, as Gotze benefitted from Sebastian Rode’s absence and the freedom of Weigl.
Aubameyang was on the end of a few more chances, coming close multiple times with his head. Dortmund were looking more comfortable later on in the first half, as Sporting gave lots of space to Weigl and ended up paying for it. Right before halftime, the 21-year-old took two dribbles after gaining possession, then fired a rocket into the bottom corner for his first Borussia Dortmund goal.
Two take-ons and a perfect long-range shot. A Weigl goal. Not Messi. Weigl. pic.twitter.com/Mx2mo6vTVC
— Lewis (@LGAmbrose) October 18, 2016
Dortmund came out of the half content to sit back and soak up some of Sporting’s pressure. Makeshift left-back Passlack struggled mightily throughout the match and picked up a yellow card in the 48th minute, which gave him problems for the rest of the game. Usually a tough, physical defender, Passlack was playing with fire as the game went on. Unfortunately, he had to be subbed off in the 90th minute, giving Dzenis Burnic his senior debut in perhaps the least ideal scenario.
Bartra’s return to the line-up was huge for Dortmund, but the Spaniard did make one costly mistake before being subbed off with what the club described as circulation problems after the match. Goalkeeper Roman Bürki was ready to comfortably pick up a loose ball in the penalty area, but Bartra was unaware of the position of his team-mate and passed the ball back to the already sliding Switzerland international for an indirect free kick around the penalty spot. Upon Sporting’s first touch on the indirect free kick, Burki rushed out, giving Bruno Cesar the space to blast the ball home to make it 2-1.
Bartra’s injury caused Lukasz Piszczek to be subbed on, who was not deemed fit enough to start, and only minutes later, right-back Matthias Ginter was subbed off and replaced by Sebastian Rode with the same problems as Bartra. Similar to last year, Ginter was much stronger as a right-back than he had been at center-back the past few weeks. With his and Bartra’s substitutions, Dortmund were going to have to play the final 20 minutes with nearly an entirely makeshift defense.
With Sporting on the attack against Dortmund’s new-look back four, the game got quite hectic. Tensions rose when Sporting did not comply with the typical unwritten “fair play” rules, keeping the ball after it was played out when Sokratis was down. Dortmund were able to hold on by a thread, after Bas Dost missed a few too many chances.
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) October 18, 2016
The Yellow Wall Game Ball finally has a recipient again, after no deserving candidates in the last two games against Bayer Leverkusen and Hertha Berlin. This time, it goes to Julian Weigl. He could have earned the award just for his first ever Dortmund goal alone, but he was much more than just the goalscorer. It was a complete performance from the young midfielder, who took advantage of the space afforded by Sporting and desperately made them pay for it.
This away win should prove to be a huge one for Dortmund, who remain top of the group on goal difference over Real Madrid. A win over Sporting in the return fixture will guarantee the Black and Yellows a spot in the knockout stages.
Next up for Dortmund is Ingolstadt on the road this Saturday, who have mustered just one point so far in the league.