Borussia Dortmund claimed all three points in the Bundesliga once again, with a mostly deserved 2-1 victory against 10th place Mainz 05. With Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig dropping points, BVB put more distance between their league rivals. If Hannover beat Borussia Mönchengladbach tomorrow, BVB could potentially finish the weekend seven points ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt in 2nd place.
Coming out of the international break, Lucien Favre chose to field a heavily rotated squad, with Mario Götze playing in a #9 role, Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel in a midfield pivot, and Jacob Bruun Larsen and Jadon Sancho on the wings. Roman Bürki, who sat out Der Klassiker with an injury, made his return to the goal line for BVB.
Mainz 05 set up defensively from the start, and did a good job keeping BVB out of high-danger areas. On the counterattack, Mainz created a good number of shots, but few really challenged BVB keeper Roman Bürki, outside of a decent shot from the top of the 18-yard box from Aaron Martin, that Bürki brushed over the bar. While Dortmund controlled most of the possession and Mainz sat very deep, BVB were unable to effectively penetrate Mainz’s stacked defense. The first half ended with both sides gridlocked at zero.
The second half was more of the same, until Lucien Favre brought on Paco Alcacer. One day after his transfer to BVB was made permanent, the Spanish super sub came off the bench and found the back of the net within two minutes. In the 67th minute, Mainz opened up just a bit, and gave BVB some space to work with. Jadon Sancho won the ball in his own end, and sensed an opportunity to slice Mainz open. He sent a wonderful through ball which found Marco Reus running down the wing. Paco Alcacer was making an unmarked run towards the penalty spot. Reus picked out a perfect low cross, and it was nothing but a tap-in for BVB’s latest start signing.
While they were surely frustrated to be down 1-0, Mainz didn’t quit, and were rewarded with a somewhat fortunate bounce that resulted in a goal minutes later. A through-ball from Mainz defender Alexander Hack took an absolute gift of a bounce off of Axel Witsel, and happened to float in front of Robin Quaison, who was making a run into the Penalty area. Quaison took the opportunity and buried a shot past Bürki, who had no chance at stopping the ball. Only three minutes after BVB had taken the lead, the match was tied.
Luckily for BVB, they had one moment of magic left in them, and it came from a surprising source. With fifteen minutes remaining, a frantic battle for the ball saw Lukasz Piszczek find himself in possession at the top of the box. He clattered a shot into the Mainz defender, picked up the rebound, switched to his favored right foot, and fired a bullet towards the top right-hand corner. The shot smashed bar-down into the net, and Dortmund took the lead once again.
Mainz couldn’t generate much else, and the match crawled to a finish. The loudest cheer from the crowd came when the BVB fans, who were intently following results from around the league, learned that Fortuna Dusseldorf had drawn level against Bayern Munich. With the three points secured, Borussia Dortmund now sit seven points ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt in 2nd place. With a difficult fixture list during the fall, and the potential for deep runs in the Champions League and the DFB-Pokal, BVB will need to keep accumulating points like this. It doesn’t matter how; as long as they get the job done.