By the half-hour mark, it was all but a formality. If there was any doubt that Borussia Dortmund might be even a little rusty coming out of the international break, such doubt was put safely to rest within three minutes, and never showed a hint of returning. BVB were as brilliant as before the international break, cutting through Stuttgart’s defense with impunity, and executing their chances with ruthlessness. It was the exact type of win Dortmund needed to gain momentum ahead of the Atletico match this week.
It only took three minutes. A terrific run by Jacob Bruun Larsen along the touchline drew in Stuttgart’s defenders, and the young Dane responded with a cut back to Marco Reus. Reus tried to play in Paco Alcacer, but Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard blocked the pass. Fortunately for BVB, the ball deflected straight to a waiting Jadon Sancho. Sancho’s shot was also deflected by defender Emiliana Insua, but floated into the far corner of the net. The goal certainly involved a couple lucky bounces, but it didn’t matter, because Dortmund were in front.
Borussia Dortmund continued to look threatening, and were rewarded twenty minutes later. BVB’s second goal was created by a pair of Dortmund legends, Marco Reus and Lukasz Pisczcek. Reus played a brilliant pass to Piszczek, who was darting down the right along the 18-yard line. Reus followed his run towards the penalty spot, and Piszczek picked out a perfect low-cross that squared the ball neatly to Reus, who dispatched it into the net.
While Dortmund’s first two goals were executed well, their third was a pure gift. Benjamin Pavard, the World Cup-winning full back, committed a terrible error on a free kick in his defensive half. He sent a lazy cross-field pass straight into the path of Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus. Alcacer took the ball and strode towards the Stuttgart net, with no pressure on him at all. Ron-Robert Zieler was indecisive, neither sticking to his line nor rushing out to pressure Alcacer. The Spaniard, practically overflowing with confidence, chipped Zieler. Before the ball had even hit the back of the net, BVB were celebrating.
Over the next 60 minutes or so, Stuttgart played their way into the match a bit, which was largely a function of BVB deciding to sit back and save energy for the Champions League. Roman Bürki was solid when needed, and Favre subbed off Reus, Alcacer, and Bruun Larsen.
BVB weren’t quite done, though. In the 84th minute, Christian Pulisic found himself in possession in the center of the pitch, with Max Philipp unmarked down the right side. Pulisic played in Philipp, who whipped a bullet from the edge of the box that beat Zieler clean. Even though it was basically just an exclamation point on the match, it was a very important goal. It was Philipp’s first goal of the season, and you could tell how relieved he felt. The entire BVB bench stood up to applaud him. Philipp has been a loyal soldier to BVB in his time here, so it felt good to see him rewarded after a long goal drought.
With this win, BVB will remain on top of the table for another week. Their upcoming match against Atletico will be their toughest test of the season thus far, and will be a much better barometer for measuring their resilience. Expect a much tougher fight.