Borussia Broken by Berisha’s Brace in the Europa League
Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Stoger suffered his first home defeat in charge of the German side as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg at the Signal Iduna Park.
Kosovan international Valon Berisha scored twice as away experts Red Bull Salzburg upset Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie with the next tie in a weeks’ time.
The Austrians extended their unbeaten record on the road in Europe to 10 matches, delivering Dortmund coach Peter Stoger his first home defeat since taking charge back in December in the process.
Having arguably been the better of the two sides in a goalless first half, Salzburg struck first when Berisha scored a penalty after Omer Toprak’s reckless foul on Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-chan.
The influential midfielder struck again in the second-half to double his side’s lead in the 56th minute, a powerful first-time strike from Stefan Lainer’s cross putting the visitors comfortably ahead.
Dortmund’s Andre Schurrle bundled in from a few yards out to half the deficit just after the hour mark, and this encouraged a load of pressure piled on from the home side in search of an equaliser.
However, they paid the price for a lethargic hour that has left the Bundesliga club having to score at least twice in the second leg if they are to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Spanish defender Marc Bartra’s presence did motivate the home crowd prior to kick-off, with the former Barcelona man – who joined Real Betis in January after asking to move back to his homeland – given a moving reception on his return to Dortmund.
His old team-mates found things tough in his presence, however, offering just one shot on target, and that was an optimistic 30-yard effort from Mahmoud Dahoud that was easily saved by Alexander Walke just before the half-time whistle.
The away side, in contrast, were lively and full-of-energy and they were denied a merited half-time lead by the woodwork, Hwang hitting the post with a right-footed strike from just outside the penalty area in the final minute of the first-half.
But the visitors were given the chance to open goal-scoring proceedings in the early stages of the second half.
Hwang managed to squirm his way beyond marker Toprak out on Salzburg’s right, forcing the defender to desperately reach for his shirt and offer Berisha the opportunity to score from the penalty spot.
If conceding first did not alert a lazy Dortmund performance so far, they were finally awoken into life when Berisha ran onto Lainer’s clever pass from the right-hand side to smash home courtesy of the underside of the bar.
Stoger brought on young American Christian Pulisic in response to the second goal and the substitute wasted no time in making an impact on the game.
The USA international’s low cross from the right flank allowed the onrushing Schurrle to force the ball over the line to give his side a glimmer of hope.
The goal gave Dortmund’s comeback bid life, however, the away side resiliently stood tall in the heavy rain to make sure they went into the reverse fixture with a lead at the Red Bull Arena Salzburg.
Dortmund meanwhile need to get over this disappointing defeat and look ahead to their Bundesliga game at home to Eintracht Frankfurt as they continue to push for a Champions League place next season.
Salzburg, however, will take great belief from their performance tonight and take this good form into their away game in the Austrian Bundesliga against Mattersburg on Sunday.