The final whistle was a welcome sound for Dortmund fans as Die Schwarzgelben made it past Stuttgart for the first league win of their last three games.
Stuttgart demanded a hard shift from Dortmund in the second half, who had to work to overcome an early 1-0 deficit courtesy of a Saza Kalajdzic header. The midfield and attack combined well to send in Jude Bellingham who squeezed an equalizer past Gregor Kobel just after the start of the second half. Mateu Morey then found Marco Reus on the left side of the box and the captain made no mistake slotting home for the lead. From here, Stuttgart looked frazzled, and Dortmund nearly found their third before the game settled down. An equalizing scare from Daniel Didavi set the stage for a grandstand finish in the 78th minute, but academy star Ansgar Knauff showed some exceptional footwork in the box to regain Dortmund’s lead and eventually snag the points for Die Schwarzgelben.
Here are today’s candidates for Man of the Match.
Bellingham was once again outstanding today, winning balls in the middle of the park and combining well with Mahmoud Dahoud to boss the midfield. If you had told me in September that a summer prospect signing and Mahmoud Dahoud would be running the center of Dortmund’s park come April, I would have laughed you out of the room. But make no mistake, Jude Bellingham has verified his place in the squad with exceptional performances, and today he was finally rewarded with his first league goal. Bellingham moved well around the box to provide an option for Gio Reyna, who dished off the ball for the Englishman to smash home. Not only did he smash home, but he also managed to wiggle the ball through two defenders and past a well placed goalkeeper; kudos to Jude for passing up on the easy ones.
Bellingham picked up a knock to his rump and was eventually substituted, though it looked precautionary. Dortmund fans hopefully should not have to worry about any absences from their star midfielder.
Dahoud worked well with his partner Jude Bellingham, as the two were given more creative license with Thomas Delaney to cover. Dahoud was excellent in the build up today, picking out the pass that set up Jude Bellingham’s goal. He was also aggressive in transition, putting in several key tackles to prevent the counter or keep the ball in the opposition half. Though 85% pass accuracy on 48 passes could be improved upon, he managed two tackles, two interceptions, and two blocked shots; similar numbers to Thomas Delaney who was playing further behind him. A good box-to-box day for Mahmoud Dahoud.
The Dortmund Captain worked hard on the left for his team today, and was rewarded with an exquisite goal. A well-placed dummy from Erling Haaland left Marco with plenty of space and riding the confidence of his midweek effort, he made no mistake slotting past Kobel. Reus was lively up until he was bulldozed off the ball and came up holding his hip area. It seemed like a case of bruising more than anything else, but the captain made way for Ansgar Knauff. Speaking of Ansgar Knauff...
What an exceptional day for the academy product, despite only playing 23 minutes! Knauff has seen his playtime skyrocket in the last few weeks, quietly coming onto the scene to make his name in the first team. Though he has not gotten as much press as other Dortmund youth products (potentially due to a lack of stars and stripes in his national flag), Knauff has shown that his pace and foot skills make him a great fit to the Dortmund system. After an assist against FC Köln and an industrious effort against Manchester City, Knauff’s third appearance in as many games resulted in a first Bundesliga goal for the youngster and WOW, was it well taken. Knauff cut in from the left with excellent awareness and tight dribbling and whipped his effort past Kobel. It takes confidence for a young and inexperienced player of Knauff’s standing to opt for a curling effort under pressure in the 80th minute, but he showed no nerves, and made a statement about his fitness for the first team going forward.
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