It had all the looks of another lackluster Rückrunde performance from Borussia Dortmund. After surrendering two goals from Solomon Kalou in the first half, BVB entered half time down 2-1, without any additional attacking options on the bench. Just when it looked like BVB might let the title hopes slip away, the bees came out and played arguably their best 45 minutes of the second half of the season. Here are our match ratings:
Roman Bürki: 5
Bürki made a real mess of Salomon Kalou’s first goal. The initial shot was a long-range shot from Max Mittelstädt that Bürki really should have caught or at least parried away from goal. Instead Bürki pushed the ball right into the path of Kalou, who was unmarked in the box. That save on Mittelstädt was the only one Bürki made during the game.
Marius Wolf: 7
I’ve criticized Wolf in recent weeks for his delivery, but he actually put some decent balls into the box yesterday. His most notable was an incisive cutback the found Christian Pulisic in the center of the box, which the young American scuffed wide.
Manuel Akanji: 6
Like the rest of Dortmund’s back line, Akanji was very slow to react to Bürki’s bungled save attempt in the 3rd minute. Other than this mistake and Weigl’s handball, however, none of BVB’s defensive mistakes resulted in goals against.
Abdou Diallo: 6
Diallo was very lucky to have not conceded a penalty when he shoved down Hertha attacker Ondrej Duda. He looked a little shaky defensively, but he also did a good job offensively, running into space and sending the ball forward.
Dan-Axel Zagadou: 7
Not only did Zagadou finally connect on a header from a corner kick, but I thought he was BVB’s best defender. In an ideal world, he would have followed up on Mittelstädt’s shot and gotten to the ball before Kalou. It seems forgivable to me because he probably expected Bürki to catch the ball or push it behind the byline.
Julian Weigl: 6
His handball (and yes, it was both a handball and a penalty) was just unfortunate. I have no doubt that the movement to block his face was 100% instinctive. Unfortunately for Weigl, the way the rules are written, it was a clear penalty. I thought he was decent otherwise. Although he had a few turnovers, he still did a good job moving the ball forward, especially along the left side.
Thomas Delaney: 8
Yes, Delaney’s goal was a pretty lucky bounce, but when you’re in a title race, you have to make your own luck. Delaney took the ball in midfield and drove down the pitch before taking his shot. The fortunate deflection that let the ball go in would never have happened if Delaney hadn’t shown that level of determination. He also provided a hockey assist on the match winner, with a pass to the left side that found Jadon Sancho cutting down the wing. He also hit the crossbar on a very well-taken volley that would have given BVB the lead in the 87th minute.
Jadon Sancho: 9 (MOTM)
Sancho was all over the pitch once again, demonstrating why he’s one of the most promising players in the game. He had 5 shots and 4 key passes. His corner deliveries were consistently excellent, and allowed Zagadou to finally connect and draw BVB level. He also set up Marco Reus’ stoppage time winner.
Christian Pulisic: 6
Before you get out the torches and pitchforks, hear me out.
Yes, he missed a bunch of chances, including the aforementioned ball on a platter that Marius Wolf set up. Yes, he led the team in failed one-on-ones. Yes, he made some poor decisions that snuffed out several attacks. He was still a dynamic offensive player who did a good job taking on defenders. He even won the corner that led to Zagadou’s goal. While it would have been nice if he had buried at least one of his chances, I would rather he get chances and not bury them than run around like a chicken with its head cut off for 90 minutes.
Jacob Bruun Larsen: 7
JBL actually had a game similar to Pulisic. He took a lot of low-percentage shots and didn’t find himself on the scoresheet. I actually thought he looked solid leading the line, at least better than I expected him to. It’s nice to know that JBL can at least fill in as an emergency CF if necessary.
Marco Reus: 8
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. He and Jadon Sancho have developed a lot of chemistry, and this combination struck once again for BVB in stoppage time. Marco was decent during the first 90 minutes, even though he couldn’t find the scoresheet. Luckily, Marco found the back of the net when needed most.
Achraf Hakimi: 6
Hakimi only played 12 minutes, but did manage to get a couple decent runs going forward and battled for a shot on goal.
Raphael Guerreiro: 6
His only real contribution was assisting Delaney’s shot that struck the crossbar.
Omer Toprak: N/A
Toprak came on to see out the end of stoppage time.
How would you rate BVB’s performance? Leave your thoughts below.