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Match Ratings: A Pair of First Bundesliga Goals Keeps BVB in the Top Four Race

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There were some stellar performances and some not-so-stellar performances.

VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund defeated Stuttgart 3-2, thanks to a late goal from Ansgar Knauff, BVB’s latest young upstart. The team once again got off to a poor start, falling behind 1-0 to a looping header by Sasa Kalajdzic. While a pair of quick second-half goals from Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus put BVB briefly in front, a 78th minute goal from Daniel Didavi forced Dortmund to scramble for another go-ahead goal. Knauff’s curled effort secured three points, which BVB desperately needed to keep pace with Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt for the final spot in the top four.

While it wasn’t a pretty performance, it got the job done. Here are our match ratings.

Starting XI

Marwin Hitz

Sean: 4

I may be in the minority, but I think Hitz holds at least a moderate portion of the blame for Stuttgart’s first goal. While it was a perfectly-placed looping header from Kalajdzic, Hitz completely misjudged the ball and stepped forward off his line, when he should have immediately moved towards the back post. While he misjudged the ball on this particular goal, he had no chance on the second goal, and saved a shot from Daniel Didavi in the 73rd minute, so I won’t mark him too poorly.

Mike: 4

Sean may be in the minority, but he is not alone in thinking how poor Hitz looked in goal. His athleticism is extremely poor and he struggles maneuvering around in the box and I constantly feel that he is an accident waiting to happen.

Raphael Guerreiro

Sean: 4

We all know that Guerreiro’s defensive contributions are limited, but normally his elite ball progression, passing, and technical ability in the final third more than make up for this aspect of his game. Today, unfortunately, Guerreiro was a non-factor in the attacking half, which meant that he was a net negative on the game.

Mike: 3

It looked as if Guerreiro had an attitude yesterday similar to someone who didn’t want to be there. Hopefully, this kind of thing gets worked out with his teammates at his talent is immense and contributions we know can be much better.

Mats Hummels

Sean: 5

Hummels needed to be subbed off at the half, reportedly because he felt serious stomach cramps. You could tell something was off with his performance in the first half, although one could forgive him for losing a header to the 6’7” Sasa Kalajdzic.

Mike: 5

I don’t put Hummels at fault for the Kalajdzic header as it was Guerreiro and Delaney who challenged and lost to the big center forward. Still, it was not Hummels’ day and hopefully he can shake off whatever it was that forced him off at half-time.

Manuel Akanji

Sean: 6

MIke: 7

I felt Akanji was really good again as he continues to be an enigma to the Dortmund supporters, but his ability to play the ball into space, carry it forward, and run with some of the fastest players on the pitch more than makes up for his aerial woes.

Mateu Morey

Sean: 6

On the positive side, Morey assisted Marco Reus’ goal, by laying off a perfectly-weighted pass through Erling Haaland’s legs. On the negative side, he was caught upfield on Stuttgart’s second goal, and was still running to get back when Daniel Didavi slotted a shot past Marwin Hitz. Just like Raphael Guerreiro, Morey can provide some benefits when Dortmund have the ball, but his defense still needs work.

Mike: 6

Thomas Delaney

Sean: 6

Mike: 6

Mahmoud Dahoud

Sean: 8

Another masterful midfield performance by Mahmoud Dahoud. It’s taken a few years for Dahoud to finally build a role for himself in the squad, but the wait is now paying off. According to FBRef, he led the team in shot-creating actions.

Mike: 9

Dahoud was excellent at winning the ball back, passing between the lines and he ran more than any other BVB player yesterday. Dahoud was a box-to-box magician constantly supporting both Delaney and the attacking trio whenever it was needed.

Marco Reus

Sean: 7

Marco is starting to find the scoresheet with consistency, just at the point in the season that it was most-needed.

MIke: 7

Another game, another goal for the club Captain as he continues to silence his critics with his consistent play on the field.

Jude Bellingham

Sean: 7

Mike: 8

It was great to the young Englishman get a much deserved goal, Bellingham stayed further forward in this match starting the press and setting the tempo for the match. At only 17, he draws comparisons to the great Steven Gerrard and anyone can see why, future England Captain.

Gio Reyna

Sean: 7

After around 1000 minutes in the league without a goal or assist, Reyna finally returned to the scoresheet with a one-touch pass that set up Jude Bellingham’s goal. He looked pretty good in the rest of the game, but I’d like to see more of this from him before I’m ready to declare a turnaround.

Mike: 8

Assisted the Bellingham goal, which kick-started the Dortmund comeback just after half-time, and was excellent throughout the game. He combined well with Morey and Bellingham on the right side and was particularly strong with his footwork to evade defenders all afternoon. Reyna has been in a slump for a while but looks to have shaken his mid-season woes just in time for the run-in.

Erling Haaland

Sean: 5

Haaland’s in something of a slump, having now gone scoreless in three consecutive games. For most strikers that would be nothing out of the ordinary, but for a player for whom the goals have seemingly never ceased coming, it feels very strange. He only registered a single shot, although he did contribute to Marco’s goal by intentionally letting the ball roll between his legs.

MIke: 6

It has been a few games since Haaland scored when you take into consideration he failed to fire for Norway during the International break. Is he saving them for Wednesday? Let’s hope so.

Substitutes

Thorgan Hazard

Sean: 5

Mike: 5

Julian Brandt

Sean: 6

Brandt looked better in his limited minutes yesterday than he has in a while.

MIke: 6

Emre Can

Mike: 7

Brought much needed energy onto the pitch after half-time, coming on for Hummels in the heart of defense. Can obviously needs a break given that he has played so much football the last couple of months as his performance against City was sub-par midweek, but when BVB needed him he stepped up once again.

Lukasz Piszczek

Mike: 6

It was great to see Piszczek come on and help see out the result, perhaps he will be the late game substitute to stop crosses from hurting the team late in matches.

Sean: 6

Ansgar Knauff

Mike: 8

Up 2-1, Terzic took off Reus to bring on Knauff for the final third of the match, but a Daniel Didavi equalizer meant that someone needed to step up: cue Ansgar Knauff. The 19 year-old German Dortmund academy product has been given a chance to impress by the BVB bosses and he took it with a beautiful strike to win the match and claim 3 points for his side. While Knauff is lauded for his pace and trickery out wide, he showed some great close control to create just enough space on the edge of the box to get his shot away and find the bottom corner.

Sean: 8

How??? How the heck did he score from that angle? I’ve watched the goal a dozen times and I still have no idea how he managed to bend that shot through what seemed like 500 pairs of legs and curl it perfectly into the corner of the net. It was an unreal goal.

Overall

Sean: 6

It wasn’t pretty, and it briefly looked like BVB had blown yet another lead, but the boys got the job done. Dortmund pretty much need to win out to qualify for the Champions League next season, so the result was about the best we could hope for.

Mike: 6

Stuttgart are a really good team, playing tough adventurous football, and are well coached. While BVB are expected to be defeating the likes of Stuttgart, its important to remember that they have just come off an emotional Champions League match midweek. A win is a win, even if it wasn’t particularly pretty.