BERLIN: An inspired performance by Thorgan Hazard against his former club helped Borussia Dortmund claim a crucial three points in the title race with a 2-1 win away at Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.
The match was tense throughout and featured a Bundesliga season-high 10 yellow cards, with players from both teams needing to be pulled away from each other by Dortmund coach Lucien Favre at fulltime.
“It was a difficult game. Gladbach are efficient and our first half wasn’t great,” said Favre. “But after it was 1-1, we played well – and that was good, very good.”
Dortmund took the lead inside 10 minutes when ex-Gladbach midfielder Hazard took a pass from Erling Braut Haaland and shrugged off three defenders to curl a floating shot into the top left-hand corner of the net.
Gladbach equalised in the 50th minute when Lars Stindl tapped in a shot from Alassane Plea to score his fifth goal from his past four games.
The turning point for Dortmund came in the 66th minute when Jadon Sancho – who started on the bench ahead of Dortmund’s crucial trip to Paris Saint-German in midweek – was introduced.
Sancho’s assist, his 15th of the season, put Achraf Hakimi in acres of space on the right wing, with the Real Madrid loanee beating Yann Sommer through his legs.
The win saw Dortmund leapfrog Leipzig into second place, trailing leaders Bayern Munich by a point.
After the match, Hazard praised Haaland’s efforts in letting other Dortmund players get on the scoresheet.
“I think he needs to give more assists, because he scores too much. I gave him one last time and now he’s given me one – we’re 1-1 – but next time it’s my turn to give him an assist again,” said Hazard.
Dortmund captain Mats Hummels said the recent additions of Haaland and Emre Can had helped them find the right balance.
“Right now we’ve got the perfect mix between artists and workers – or folks that can do both,” said Hummels.
Leipzig draw blank
RB Leipzig dropped points for the second weekend running after labouring to a 0-0 draw at Wolfsburg.
Leipzig missed the goal threat of Timo Werner, who started the game on the bench after overcoming a muscular problem during the week.
Despite being subbed on in the 60th minute, Werner – who has 21 goals in the Bundesliga this season – failed to make an impact in a dour encounter with few chances for either side, marking just the third time this season that Leipzig have failed to get on the scoresheet.
Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann said the performance did not bode well ahead of Tottenham’s visit to Germany on Tuesday.
“A draw was the right result as we weren’t good enough to win. We were laboured and slow in our build-up,” he said.
“We didn’t create any space. We need to become dangerous again in front of goal before the Tottenham game.”
At the BayArena, Bayer Leverkusen dominated Eintracht Frankfurt 4-0 to jump up to fourth in the table.
German football’s golden boy Kai Havertz opened the scoring in the fourth minute with his sixth of the season, tapping in a cross from Moussa Diaby. Karim Bellarabi scored the home side’s second just 10 minutes later when chipping in from close range.
Leverkusen’s teenage Brazilian forward Paulinho added two more in a five-minute period midway through the second half.
Schalke and Hoffenheim fought out a 1-1 draw at the Veltins Arena. American midfielder Weston McKennie scored just his second goal from 67 Bundesliga appearances when his left-footed drive put his side 1-0 up in the 20th minute.
Hoffenheim levelled in the 69th minute through Christoph Baumgartner.
Elsewhere, relegation-threatened Werder Bremen held on for a 2-2 draw away at Hertha Berlin after blowing a two-goal lead.
Freiburg kept their hopes for European football alive with a dominant 3-1 home win over Union Berlin.
On Sunday, Bayern have a chance to restore their four-point lead at the top of the table when they welcome Bavarian neighbours Augsburg to the Allianz Arena.