Borussia Dortmund were made to pay for their defense errors, and although it wasn’t the first time that was the case this season it was an early wobble for a side hoping to claim the title come May.
Lucien Favre will have watched from his sickbed in horror as his Dortmund side threw a three-goal lead in 20 second-half minutes to draw with Hoffenheim.
Favre had a cold and couldn’t be on the sidelines, but that didn’t seem to be a problem for Dortmund in the first half. Jadon Sancho bamboozled Hoffenheim’s defense to score a fantastic opener before Mario Götze tucked in a rebound from another effort from the English teenager to double Dortmund’s lead.
After a fruitless first half, Julian Nagelsmann made two key changes at the break and his side were inspired. At first though, that inspiration was denied by a handful of superb saves by Roman Bürki. When Raphael Guerreiro finished off another fine move by Sancho and Götze, it looked to be all over for the visitors.
Then, Ishak Belfodil (one of the halftime subs) squeezed an effort past Bürki and Hoffenheim were in with a chance. When Achraf Hakimi failed to see Pavel Kaderabek sneak in for a header, suddenly that chance looked very real. With three minutes left, Sancho gave away a silly free kick and Belfodil’s diving header made sure the comeback was complete.
If Lucien Favre was looking for some respite, he probably didn’t find any in Dortmund on Saturday afternoon. What might make matters worse for Dortmund is that Bayern can close the gap to five points with a win over Schalke later.
FULL TIME! The corner comes to nothing and that is it. What a game!
90+3′ Final minute. Free kick is cleared, but Dortmund have a corner… Last chance…
90+2′ Sancho nearly gets into the box, but Posch makes a big tackle. Witsel keeps it alive and wins a free kick. Wolf is on for Guerreiro.
90′ Belfodil fouls Sancho with a similarly needless foul. Free kick is swung in, Diallo gets to it but guides it past the far post. Close. Three minutes of added time. Surely this won’t be Augsburg all over again?
87′ GOAL! 3-3 Hoffenheim (Belfodil) Sancho gives away a needless free kick with a push. Geiger whips in the cross and Belfodil times his run and his diving header (don’t see enough of those) perfectly. Goal! What a turnaround. Just 20 minutes ago, Dortmund were 3-0 up! Remarkable.
86′ Dortmund have stirred from their 3-0 slumber and now look like scoring again. Just one goal in it – incredible!
83′ GOAL! Hoffenheim (Kaderabek) There it is! Toprak has no chance to get into the game. A deep ball into the box is met by Kaderabek, who sneaks in behind the unaware Hakimi, to head it across goal into the far corner. Bürki no chance, Dortmund’s defense asleep – game on!
82′ That has changed things quite a bit. Hoffenheim pushing for a second and in all honestly, they look like they might. Dortmund get the call from Favre (we presume) and Götze is brought off for Toprak. Keen to sure things up at the back in the final 10 minutes or so.
76′ GOAL! Hoffenheim (Belfodil) Moments after Bürki makes another great save to deny Kaderabek, he can’t quite keep out Belfodil’s effort at the back post and Hoffenheim have a goal. He was clawing at it and had a hold of it, but only behind the line and so there’s the goal Hoffenheim deserve but probably needed 15 minutes ago. Bürki won’t be happy about that.
70′ It hasn’t been easy for Maxi Philipp, and his face suggests as much when he comes off. Paco Alcacer comes on (Hoffenheim look away now). Reiss Nelson is on for Bittencourt, which means friends Nelson and Sancho are now playing against one another in the Bundesliga. Life eh?
67′ GOAL! 3-0 Dortmund (Guerreiro) That is a sign of how confident this team is. Götze and Sancho combine superbly down the right, and after a flick through Posch’s legs Götze gets to the byline and threads a perfect pass for Guerreiro to hit first time. He does and it’s 3-0 and that is probably that. It could be a rout.
61′ CHANCE! That’s three chances and no goals for Hoffenheim now, who have clearly improved on their first-half performance. Belfodil turns and fires in the box but Bürki is there again with a smart save. It’s only 2-0…
56′ CHANCE! It is worth noting that Roman Bürki has been in the form of his life this season. Joelinton bursts through and smashes a bouncing ball towards the top corner, but Bürki saves superbly. Worth remembering, at the end of it all.
52′ CHANCE! Nico Schulz drives a low shot towards the far corner but it nicks the post! It should have been a corner too as it clipped someone’s heel along the way too. No corner, and no goal for Hoffenheim who just look out of luck – and not for the first time this season.
49′ Hoffenheim start the second half the livelier of the two, but it’s Dortmund who nearly score. Sancho (who else?) somehow finds his way into the box and tries to get the pass across but takes one little touch too many and Hoffenheim clear.
46′ Dortmund gets us restarted. Nagelsmann makes two changes: Geiger has come on for Demirbay (sure up the midfield a bit), and Belfodil for Kramaric (change the attack).
After a slow start, Dortmund grew into it but it’s Jadon Sancho who is making the difference here. The teenager has scored one, assisted another and has shown so much quality in one-on-one situations it’s almost not fair on the opposition. Game-changer – and all that at just 18. What fun he is to watch. Oh and he’s now the youngest player in Bundesliga history to score eight goals. Talented eh?
43′ GOAL! 2-0 Dortmund (Götze) A textbook counterattack. Hakimi pulls it down inside his own half perfectly, finds Witsel striding forward. He sends Sancho down the left (where there’s lots of space). He cuts in and goes for the far corner, Baumann parries but only into the path of Götze who tucks it away. Lovely stuff, and Hoffenheim have no answer (who does to be fair?).
40′ Sancho is having so much fun. Quick passing sends him down the right, he dances his way through and past defenders and just when it looks like he might lose the ball he finds space again. Already a very special talent. Pivotally, he passes at the right time too. Demirbay tackles him (gets booked for it later) but the corner comes to nothing. Dortmund dancing towards halftime.
36′ Have Hoffenheim got a response? Joelinton heading over doesn’t count, or at least isn’t much of one. Bürki takes a few risks with his service though, and nearly invites the visitors back in but Dortmund deal with it. Not as much scrappy play as at the start, but some elements of such play lingers.
32′ GOAL! 1-0 Dortmund (Sancho) Who needs Lucien when you have Jadon? Well, perhaps that’s not all true but this goal from Jadon Sancho is very much about him. The teenager plays a tricky ball through traffic to Piszczek, he plays it straight back to him as he bursts into the box. His speed allows him to take a touch and then, just as it looks as though he’s gone too wide, he drills a perfect shot into the far corner. Brilliant – and it all started from a throw in. Julian Nagelsmann is not happy.
31′ Think it’s time to give Lucien a call. Even through the sniffles and the sneezes, he must have a plan to decongest Dortmund.
28′ Again, the game falls into a spell of back and forth. The game is drifting a bit, like the fourth and fifth songs on an album. Grillitsch gets booked for stopping Philipp from starting a counterattack. Dortmund can’t use it, and the cycle continues. Patience is a virtue, remember.
22′ CHANCE! There it is – a sign of life. Piszczek finds Philipp on the edge of the box, he whips an effort goalwards but it flies past the far post. If anyone could do with a goal in yellow and black…
20′ This fixture has provided some real classics over the year. Remember that year Hoffenheim needed to win to stay up and scored two penalties against Kevin Großkreutz in Dortmund’s goal? Those were the days. This one looked like it might be bubbling over, but now has returned to a simmer. The rain is back too.
15′ Dortmund growing into this one now. A strong tackle by Piszczek keeps Dortmund on the edge of the box, Dahoud thinks about shooting but tees up Witsel instead. Sadly, his pass isn’t perfect (too fast and ends up with the ball under Witsel’s feet) which leaves Witsel firing over.
11′ What a strange chance! Jadon Sancho plays a one-two, eventually the shot comes to Achraf Hakimi. It’s blocked, but the rebound falls to Hakimi. He gets another effort in, which trickles towards Baumann. Götze, who is offside, doesn’t touch it but sort of impedes Posch, whose clearance deflects off Sancho and in. Cue celebrations, but VAR comes a calling and Götze, despite his protests, was deemed to have been involved in the play. No goal. On we go.
9′ Stop me if you’ve seen this one before. Dortmund are taking their time to get into this one, patiently waiting to strike. Hoffenheim have a couple of corners they waste. Chance coming?
5′ All a bit sloppy so far. Both sides unable to keep the ball under control, and when they do the passing has been poor. Lots of exchange of possession.
1′ Hoffenheim get us underway, just as the rain arrives to join the wind.
– There’s a minute’s silence for Rudi Assauer, a Bundesliga legend who passed away on Wednesday. The silence turns into polite applause.
– Before the game, Thomas Delaney was asked who Dortmund would miss the most today, Reus, Delaney or Favre? Probably Reus, the midfielder said with a smile. Hard to disagree. Can Dortmund win without him?
– TEAMS! Nagelsman hopes to keep it tight in the middle and congest Dortmund’s play, whereas Dortmund hope that Mahmoud Dahoud (replacing the suspended Delaney) and Maximilian Philipp (in for the injured Marco Reus) don’t cause a drop. More surprisingly, Lucien Favre is ill (cold) and won’t be on the sidelines today. He gave the pre-game talk in the hotel (but from a distance so as not to spread the germs) and will have communication with his assistants during the game. No Reus, no Favre, no problem?
Dortmund XI: Bürki – Hakimi, Diallo, Weigl, Piszczek – Dahoud, Witsel – Guerreiro, Philipp, Sancho – Götze
Hoffenheim XI: Baumann – Schulz, Hübner, Posch, Bicakcic – Kaderabek – Grillitsch – Bittencourt, Demirbay – Joelinton, Kramaric
– Afternoon. Can Julian Nagelsmann get his team as dangerous as they were last season? They have conceded a number of sloppy goals this season, have thrown the most leads but also hit the woodwork the most. Some misfortune, but also some mistakes too. They are 8th at the moment, three points of Frankfurt (6th). The Champions League is all but gone (not for Nagelsmann though, if Leipzig make it)