Despite a slew of missed chances, Borussia Dortmund dispatched Hamburg by a score of 3-0. The hosts took an early lead but had to wait until the 81st minute to wrap the game up.
There were some questions as to what kind of line-up manager Thomas Tuchel would send out, with Marcel Schmelzer, Erik Durm, and Julian Weigl doubtful and Sokratis suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card against Schalke. Ultimately, Weigl got the start while Schmelzer and Durm missed out, and Sokratis was replaced by Matthias Ginter. With the absences, Tuchel was forced to play a 4-1-4-1 formation, rather than his preferred three at the back system.
Early on, Emre Mor and Shinji Kagawa were two of Dortmund’s brightest players, with the latter continuing his string of great performances. Mor, on the other hand, enjoyed his first start since February, looking lively and energetic on the ball, combining well with Kagawa and Gonzalo Castro. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who spurned a number of chances on the day, got started early, firing a one-on-one shot into goalkeeper Rene Adler’s knee.
Despite starting the game strongly, Dortmund’s biggest scare came in the 11th minute when Hamburg striker Bobby Wood slipped past Ginter and Marc Bartra to be one on one with goalkeeper Roman Bürki. Once again, the Swiss international came up big, saving Wood’s striker with his foot. It was first sign of danger with the Bartra/Ginter partnership, but the duo was bailed out by the goalkeeper.
The Bürki save proved huge, as Dortmund took the lead minutes later. Kagawa played a silky one-two with Mor, but the Japanese midfielder was pulled back near the edge of the box as the return ball was played. Gonzalo Castro surprisingly stepped up, and converted the free-kick at the far post. Adler should have had it covered but made a move towards the middle of the goal as Castro struck the ball, giving him the keeper chance to recover.
Shortly after, Bobby Wood once again left Ginter and Bartra spinning, but Lukasz Piszczek came in at the last minute to dispossess the American striker. Despite a strong Rückrunde thus far from Bartra, he has struggled at times paired with Ginter when not in a back three. A more prolific team might have made Dortmund pay for their defensive frailties, but they were able to get away with it.
Aubameyang could have, or should have, put Dortmund up 2-0 in the 27th minute, as he was played in on goal by who else but Kagawa again. The Gabonese striker was rather unlucky, though, as Adler made the save with his face.
This continued into the second half, as Dortmund certainly could have had five on the day. Ousmane Dembele nearly scored a brilliant goal, twisting and turning in the box, but his effort was deflected by Hamburg centre-back Albin Ekdal at the last second.
Despite all the chances, Dortmund found themselves on the back foot with twenty minutes left to play. It felt similar to last weekend’s Revierderby draw, where Dortmund failed to put away two big chances before Schalke found an undeserved equaliser off a corner. Luckily, Dortmund’s bend-but-don’t-break defence was able to hold firm until the team’s second goal finally came in the 81st minute.
It was Kagawa who scored it, and considering the game he had and the form he’s been in, there was not a more deserving goalscorer. Aubameyang did brilliantly to get on the end of a long header from substitute Felix Passlack, then twisted away and left Ekdal in the dust to slide an easy ball across goal for Kagawa to tap in. It was no less than Dortmund deserved, and it put the game seemingly out of reach for Hamburg.
Aubameyang finally got his name on the scoresheet in the 92nd minute, as Kagawa played a sweet pass over the top of the defence to play in the Gabonese striker. Apparently, Aubameyang decided he’d had enough of Adler for the day, and chose to round the keeper for an easy finish.
Despite the 3-0 scoreline, Borussia Dortmund had to fight for this win. A team with more quality might have made Dortmund rue their missed chances, like last weekend, but the three points were deserved here. The black and yellows remain in fourth place ahead of their trip to Bayern at the weekend, as Hoffenheim pulled out a surprising 1-0 win against the leaders.