Borussia Dortmund ended Bayer Leverkusen's six game winning streak today, defeating them 1-0 away at the BayArena following some very unorthodox officiating.
After a heavily disputed free-kick lead to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's game deciding goal, match official Felix Zwayer ordered both teams off the pitch when Leverkusen manager Roger Schmidt refused to be sent to the stands. The lull only lasted a 10 minutes but left the whole of the BayArena in shock as Schmidt was told twice by Zwayer to exit the pitch, but still wound up watching his team fail to find an equalizer from the stands when the game resumed.
There were few clear cut chances for either team during a first half that saw tensions between the sides heat-up and Dortmund play defensively to stifle a rusty Leverkusen attack. Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel fielded his normal 4-3-3 shape but with a much more defensively minded midfield three of Matthias Ginter, Sven Bender and Mortiz Leitner. They managed to keep tabs on a sometimes tricky Bayer attack with a harsh pressing game that eventually reaped rewards when Bender put pressure on Bayer captain Stefan KieBling and won the infamous free-kick that both decided and stopped the game.
After the Zwayer induced intermission, Leverkusen gunned to find an equalizer, with the half-fit Javier Hernandez going close twice. It was the same story on the other side of the pitch with Dortmund reaching for the safety net of a second goal but Marco Reus squandering a one-on-one with Bayer keeper Bernd Leno. Dortmund even revered back to their usual tactics with American sweet-heart Christian Pulisic, who enjoyed his first start for the back and yellows today, coming off for Marco Reus and Sven Bender making way for the attack minded Julian Weigl.
Good news for Dortmund fans: The team proved once again that they don't need ideal conditions to win a tough game. This was definitely a scrap-fest with the possession split down the middle at 51%-49% and Leverkusen actually having two more shots on goal, but BVB came away with the win regardless, stretching the biggest gap from second to third to 16 points, the biggest in Bundesliga history at this point in the season. They might slowly be creeping but up on table leaders Bayern Munich as well, shortening the gap back to eight points. Also BVB should have been delighted to see 17-year-old Pulisic get his first start. Don't worry too much about his half-time substitution.
Bad news for Dortmund fans: Everyone's favorite Greek juggernaut Sokratis Papastathopoulos had to helped off the pitch today at the 76th minute. No word yet on how long he'll be out, but Dortmund fans will hope that its nothing too serious as the defender's physicality has been key to Dortmund's recent and impressive defensive form.