Borussia Dortmund met Hertha Berlin in front of the empty stands of the Westfalenstadion, needing three points to keep the illusion of a title chase against Bayern Munich alive. With Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig dropping points, it was also a prime opportunity to create some distance between Dortmund in second and the other Champions League competitors below. It was bitterly-fought and a bit dry at times, but BVB managed to walk away with a narrow 1-0 victory.
Unfortunately for BVB, Hertha would not make it easy. Dortmund started off the first half well, keeping Hertha pinned into their own half for much of the opening 20 minutes. BVB’s front three were fluid in their positioning and combined well with BVB’s full backs along either flank. Unfortunately, BVB lacked the right final touch to score. Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, and Achraf Hakimi had clear chances in the first half, but couldn’t even find the net once. The clearest chance of the match belonged to Hazard. A cross from the left flank found Hazard open at the far post in the 21st minute, but he sliced the shot and sent it sailing wide.
Even though BVB led Hertha in shot attempts 5-2, BVB never mustered a shot on target during the first half. The defensive effort was much better. Emre Can was an imposing figure at CB, leading either side with 3 clearances. Piszczek and Akanji continued their good form alongside him, snuffing out nearly every attack that Hertha could muster and limiting Esswein and Ibisevic to zero shot attempts.
BVB started the second half on the front foot once again. Just five minutes into the first half, Dortmund missed a golden opportunity at the tail-end of a very pretty passing combination. Achraf Hakimi played a low cross from the touch line all the way across the face of the net to Raphael Guerreiro. The Belgian set an easy tap-in for Jadon Sancho, who promptly ripped it wide. Hertha were clearly on the back foot, but they managed a few decent chances, with Alexander Esswein sending a shot from the edge of the box just wide in the 56th minute.
Dortmund finally broke the ice, though, in the 57th minute off of a corner. The initial cross in was cleared, but Dortmund cycled it around a bit until Brandt managed to head a ball down to Emre Can inside the box, who managed to trickle a shot past Rune Jarstein. Dortmund had finally managed to break the ice. After BVB scored, Hertha began to push forward, looking for an equalizer. They created a few chances, including a set piece from a dangerous area that BVB managed to deal with. As has been the case during the Bundesliga restart, Favre used his extra subs to bring on some youngsters. Leonardo Balerdi, Mateu Morey, and Gio Reyna were given time towards the end of the match to defend Dortmund’s tenuous 1-0 lead.
BVB had one more golden chance to seal their victory in the 89th minute. Jadon Sancho did very well to dribble through Hertha’s defenders into the corner of the box. He pulled off a beautiful give-and-go with Guerreiro, who returned the ball to Sancho right in front of goal. Unfortunately, Sancho’s shot was blocked by Jarstein, who threw himself at Sancho and stopped the shot at point-blank range.
Fortunately, BVB wouldn’t need a second goal. Hertha fought to the bitter end, but Dortmund managed to hold out and win 1-0. With these three crucial points, the title chase is still nominally alive. Dortmund will need to win out the remainder of the season, and Bayern will have to completely collapse. As long as there’s still a possibility of victory, though, BVB will continue to fight on.