Borussia Dortmund won their 10th Bundesliga game in Signal Iduna Park this season on Sunday, beating 1899 Hoffenheim 3-1. The visitors were on top for large parts of the game until a sending off helped tilt the game in the Black and Yellows favour.
Despite Thomas Tuchel making it sound like half the team would have to watch the game from their sickbeds, the head coach made only three changes from the team that beat FC Porto in midweek: Neven Subotic replaced Mats Hummels in central defence, with the captain’s problems with the hip flexor proving too big, while Lukasz Piszczek returned from his muscle injury that had kept him out of the Porto game, and Nuri Sahin took Ilkay Gündogan’s spot in midfield.
Dortmund lined up in a fairly straightforward 4-2-3-1 in which both Sahin and Julian Weigl dropped very deep to facilitate buildup play. That was to be expected with Hummels’ missing, of course, but it felt like BVB didn’t connect attack and defence well. Often times they lined up in the dreaded 5-0-5 shape.
Hoffenheim, on the other hand, played an interesting system that can perhaps be described as a 5-3-2-0. Kevin Volland and Mark Uth positioned themselves far wide and young Nadiem Amiri occasionally chipped in as a striker. The visitors managed to dominate Dortmund’s midfield in their own half, which led to a dogged game full of fouls and inaccuracies.
Hoffenheim went in front after 25 minutes through Sebastian Rudy. The birthday boy initiated the counter-attacking sequence with a daring run right down the middle of Dortmund’s absent midfield before finding Volland. Roman Bürki kept his rather weak attempt out, but didn’t manage to parry the ball away from danger.
Rudy was left with a tap in that, to make matters worse, nutmegged Bürki.
The Switzerland international redeemed himself with a strong save against Volland, who should’ve doubled Hoffenheim’s lead shortly after the first goal.
Marco Reus had Dortmund’s only shot of the half with a fine free-kick that lacked that last bit of pace to beat Oliver Baumann in Hoffenheim’s goal.
Ilkay Gündogan’s introduction changed the game and, more importantly, Dortmund’s attitude. The Germany international’s incredible dribble three minutes after intermission might only have led to a shot that rattled the post, but it woke up his team-mates.
Dortmund became more dominant, but hardly created anything against a massive wall of defenders Hoffenheim concentrated in front of their own box.
Then came the 58th minute: With Dortmund on a rare counter-attack, Hoffenheim were outnumbered. Aubameyang drove the ball down the park and was about to release a team-mate on the wing when he was fouled from behind by Rudy.
Referee Peter Sippel didn’t hesitate and showed the Hoffenheim captain a red card. It was a harsh, but not necessarily a wrong decision: Rudy had no chance at playing the ball, came from behind and had enough impetus to potentially hurt Aubameyang. One could well call it a cynical foul.
At any rate, with Hoffenheim down to 10 men, Dortmund had half chance after half chance, never really troubling Baumann, until 10 minutes from time.
A short corner routine from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Moritz Leitner reached Gündogan, who played a neat little through ball to the Armenian. He then drove towards the danger zone and everyone expected a cutback pass, but, being the creative genius he is, Mkhitaryan cheekily finished himself, with his low shot into the far corner giving Baumann no chance.
After the equaliser, Dortmund were all over Hoffenheim, and it took only five minutes until they made it count: Lukasz Piszczek barely reached a ball over the top from Gündogan and played a fantastic cross into the box. There, substitute striker Adrian Ramos leapt higher than his marker, Niklas Süle, and emphatically headed home.
The Colombian’s third league goal of the season was Dortmund’s 100th of the campaign across competitions.
Aubameyang first wasted a golden opportunity to add a 101st, but couldn’t miss after Mkhitaryan teed him up after a brilliant volley pass from Ramos in stoppage time.
Hoffenheim were the better side until the sending off against Rudy. There’s little to suggest Dortmund would’ve turned the game around against 11 visitors. Rather, it was the third straight poor performance in a home league match, at least until the last 25 minutes or so.
Still, the players’ determination and desire to keep all three points in the Westfalenstadion lifted the Black and Yellows to a win over strong opponents on the day. Substitutes Gündogan and Ramos were instrumental in the come-from-behind win, as was Mkhitaryan.
Now it’s a short turnaround with the game at SV Darmstadt scheduled for Wednesday evening.