Werkself coach Peter Bosz travelled to his former club without Kerem Demirbay, who was absent for personal reasons. Julian Baumgartlinger replaced him in the centre of midfield , while Nadiem Amiri was handed his first Bundesliga start for Bayer 04, replacing Leon Bailey.
Two of the top teams in the Bundesliga, beautiful weather and a sold-out Signal-Iduna-Park: all the ingredients were there – and Bosz was as excited as anyone for Saturday’s match. “When you play football, this is what you want. It’s just a joy,” said the Dutchman in the build-up.
And in the early stages, it looked there could be joy for the travelling supporters. In their familiar 3-6-1 system, Bayer 04 certainly weren’t sitting back and in fact dominated possession against title hopefuls. That said, it was Lukas Hradecky who was called into action first when he had to smother Raphael Guerreiro’s free-kick with Axel Witsel running in (13’). Shortly after that, Mats Hummels missed the target from another set piece. Bayer 04 continued to impress with their tidy passing play, though, and had their first real effort on goal in the 21st minute when Karim Bellarabi – deployed in an unfamiliar left-wing role – had a go from distance.
Midway through the first half, the hosts began to gain the upper hand and created the first big chance of the game following a well-crafted attack. However, Hradecky was equal to the task, not just once but twice. First he saved one-on-one from Marco Reus and then he also got a hand to the rebound from his former teammate Julian Brandt (24’). It was a world-class piece of goalkeeping!
The Finn was soon beaten, though. After a misunderstanding between Bellarabi and Amiri, Achraf Hakimi had the time to pick out Paco Alcácer in the middle, whose high-quality finish gave Dortmund the lead (28’). “That goal was the turning point,” commented captain Lars Bender after the game.
Dortmund were now demonstrating their full quality as they increased the pressure on the Werkself defence. They came frighteningly close to doubling their lead when Witsel laid the ball off to Thomas Delaney, but his goal-bound shot was heroically blocked by Jonathan Tah. From the rebound, Hradecky then showed excellent reflexes again to tip Hakimi’s effort onto the underside of the bar as Bayer 04 breathed a sigh of relief.
Bosz responded to the Black and Yellows‘ pressure by switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Bellarabi moving to the right flank. His team found their way back into the game after that and Amiri fired a warning shot at Roman Bürki’s shortly before half-time.
That was Amiri’s last action as he was replaced at half-time by Bailey, and the Jamaican almost announced his arrival with a goal when he missed Bellarabi’s cross by a whisker (48’). Bellarabi himself had a great chance to equalise seconds later when Kai Havertz put him through on goal with a delightful pass, but he squandered the opportunity.
That was a setback for the Werkself on several levels: On the one hand, Kevin Volland was brought down by Akanji and the chance to lay the ball off was gone and then the scoreline was 2-0 for BVB rather 1-1: A clearance from Akanji landed right in the path of Sancho, who crossed from the right, where Alcácer dummied allowing Reus to convert in clinical fashion (50').
Bayer 04 endeavoured to get back on terms, moving the ball well and suceedding in creating decent chances to pull a goal back. A Havertz effort was stopped by Bürki's foot (63') and a Bailey header from a Bellarabi cross went just wide of the target (69'). Not just the team but also the coach tried everything with Moussa Diaby (for Bellarabi) and Lucas Alario (for Charles Aránguiz) coming on to provide more options up front.
Nothing went well for Bayer 04 in the closing stages and there was a lack of effective penetration in attack. Instead, it was Dortmund who were the more clinical in front of goal with another two strikes. A counter-attack ended with Sancho in the middle and Hradecky was only able to parry the ball to the feet Guerreiro. The Portugal midfielder was left with a tap-in to make it 3-0 (83'). In the final minute, a lightning fast break ended with Brunn Larsen exploiting the gaps in the Werkself defence to provide the assist for Reus to make it 4-0 on 90 minutes.
"We know we can play better and we've got to show it again," said Lars Bender after the game. One positive: Bayer 04 have the chance to make amends on Wednesday. In the first Champions League game in two and a half years, the Werkself entertain the Russian league runners up Lokomotiv Moscow. The kick-off at the BayArena is at 21.00 CET.
Borussia Dortmund: Bürki - Hakimi, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro - Witsel (Weigl 79'), Delaney - Brandt (Hazard 61'), Reus, Sancho - Alcácer (Bruun Larsen 79')
Bayer 04: Hradecky – L. Bender, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger, Aránguiz (Alario 79') – Bellarabi (Diaby 73'), Havertz, Amiri (Bailey 46')– Volland
Goals: 1-0 Alcácer (28'), 2-0 Reus (50'), 3-0 Guerreiro (83'), 4-0 Reus (90')
Referee: Daniel Siebert (Berlin)
Booked: Amiri, Wendell, Havertz
Attendance: 81,365 (sell-out)
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