Witsel hails Dortmund’s away win in Bundesliga title race

Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel (third from right) leads the celebrations after his goal at RB Leipzig kept Borussia Dortmund six points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga. (AFP pic)

LEIPZIG: Match-winner Axel Witsel hailed Borussia Dortmund’s hard-fought away win at RB Leipzig on Saturday which kept them six points clear of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga title race.

Belgium international Witsel claimed the winner on 19 minutes when the ball fell to the midfielder from a corner and he reacted fastest, smashing home off the underside of the crossbar.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game as RB Leipzig always apply a lot of pressure,” the 30-year-old told Sky.

“I am happy to score … but I am more happy with the three points because it was really important to get a win at the start of the second half of the season.”

Second-placed Bayern had trimmed Dortmund’s lead to three points on Friday with an impressive 3-1 win at Hoffenheim as Leon Goretzka scored two superb first-half goals for the defending champions.

“We are still top, but we have to take it game for game, we did a good job here, but we have to take it step for step,” cautioned Witsel.

This was Dortmund’s first win at Leipzig at the third attempt, which delighted their head coach Lucien Favre despite disappointment at Jadon Sancho and Maximilian Philipp both wasting second-half chances that would have made the win more comfortable.

“We are extremely happy, that was a hard game, we should have made it 2-0,” said the Swiss.

“The whole team put in a good performance.”

Fourth-placed Leipzig suffered their first home league defeat this season thanks to Witsel’s first-half winner, and Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick said his side lost the match in the opening minutes.

“In the first 20 minutes we weren’t brave enough and didn’t seize the initiative in attack,” Rangnick said, lamenting the fine saves Dortmund stopper Roman Buerki pulled off against Timo Werner and Marcel Sabitzer in the second half.

“After that, we got into the game, but the second half was crazy — when you get chances against a team like Dortmund, you have to score at least once.”