Having lost to Lazio in the opening game of their Champions League campaign, Borussia Dortmund really needed to beat Zenit St. Petersburg to keep their hopes of topping Group F alive. It wasn’t the easiest of games, but BVB were able to get the much needed win, leaving Dortmund in 3rd place in the group, one point behind Lazio and Club Brugge. This sets Dortmund up for a very important game against Club Brugge next Wednesday, who have looked surprisingly strong in the opening weeks of the Champions League.
Despite dominating the game last night, it looked like BVB might fail to get all three points, as Zenit kept them at bay for well over an hour. But Dortmund kept up the pressure, and eventually the Russian side’s defense cracked, conceding a penalty with a little over 10 minutes left in the game. Sancho converted the penalty, and a Haaland goal in stoppage time put the game to bed. Here’s how we rated the individual performances from yesterday’s game:
A couple shaky moments in an otherwise quiet night. He hasn’t had a lot to do since taking back his starting role from Hitz.
Did he have any saves? I thought his distribution wasn’t great and he should have stepped forward instead of back on that back pass from Guerreiro.
Another rock solid performance from Manuel. He’s making a habit of it! You can see him growing from strength to strength with every game, and with every quality performance. Many fans, myself included, thought that Dortmund could have benefited from bringing in another center back over the summer, but it didn’t seem like the club was interested in making any moves on that front. With Akanji playing like this, I can understand why.
Really lively, was a constant outlet down the right flank, and was arguably Dortmund’s best player. It wasn’t the kind of flashy offensive threat that Hakimi offered, but I don’t think Meunier will ever be that guy. Instead, he was busy, worked hard on both ends of the ball, and he made a lot of valuable contributions.
More involved in the passing and attack yesterday. He was running the give and goes into the corner with Sancho . . . but it was the old fashioned cross that led to our first goal.
Another solid performance from Guerreiro, but he’ll need a rest on the weekend.
Witsel was dependable as ever, and looked much more comfortable having been given the rest over the weekend. Even though BVB lack a direct replacement for Witsel, the choice between Can, Dahoud, Delaney, and Bellingham means that they can change things up and give Witsel a break whenever necessary. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Another good performance by Dahoud. I did not expect to say that that Dahoud, Akanji, and Meunier were among Dortmund’s best players two games on the trot, but here we are. All he needs now is to bury one of his long-range efforts, and then we’re really moving!
He was handling a lot of the ball progression yesterday and did so well. But I’ve got to knock him for his shot selection.
I thought he was lively in the first half and had a few dangerous moments. But in the second half he faded a bit and his frustration became evident.
Sancho came away from yesterday’s game with a goal, and easily could have picked up an assist had his teammates finished one of the chances he created. Sometimes felt like he was overcomplicating things, in attempt to make something happen. I think he just needed to relax and play his game. But I like to see Sancho trying to put the team on his back.
Sancho’s dribbling wasn’t working, but his passing was deadly. The only difference between this game and the Schalke game, for me, was that this time Haaland missed his shot after Sancho played him through. Sancho took his penalty well.
Possibly should have scored from an earlier opportunity from a Sancho through ball, but it’s important that he keeps adding to his tally, even when he’s not at his best.
He messed up a few good attacks, and he left it late, but in the end he got his goal.
Picked up a nice assist, knocking on a long ball for Haaland to score the second and put the game to bed. Not bad for less than 10 minutes on the pitch.
Reminiscent of Reyna’s contribution last week, sometimes you try something and it works.
Despite struggling to break Zenit down for the majority of the game, I thought BVB played pretty well. I thought Zenit did a really good job defensively, and made it really difficult for Dortmund. BVB did well to keep on pushing, and were eventually rewarded for their efforts.
We are in agreement about a lot of things about last night’s performance. The defense was masterful, the midfield controlled the game, and the attackers couldn’t quite make the final pass. They were getting into dangerous positions, and trying to slot the final ball into the middle, but it wasn’t quite connecting.
What do you guys think? Who was your man of the match? How would you rate the individual performances?