A returning Marco Reus after nine months out with injury ended in Borussia Dortmund victory against Hamburg, courtesy of goals from in-form Michy Batshuayi and Mario Gotze at the Westfalenstadion.
Batshuayi made sure talisman Marco Reus’ return finished in triumph with his third goal in just two games at Borussia Dortmund with the game’s opening goal in a tough 2-0 Bundesliga win over Hamburg.
Following the £56million departure of the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal, the on-loan Chelsea striker’s form and Reus’ first appearance since May of last year definitely lifted spirits of the home fans.
Reus showed no lack of fitness during the 71 minutes of his return and although Dortmund went with an attacking line-up including the likes of Andre Schurrle, Christian Pulisic and Shinji Kagawa, they proceedings challenging against Bernd Hollerbach’s well-organised side.
Batshuayi unsurprisingly made the breakthrough with his side’s first shot on target and he celebrated his first home goal with a somersault celebration that mirrored one of the departed Aubameyang’s traditional ways of celebrating.
USA international Pulisic missed a great chance to make the secure points after this, but substitute Mario Gotze grabbed a late second goal in injury time to extend Peter Stoger’s unbeaten record in charge to seven Bundesliga matches.
Reus took the captain’s armband for the game and made his influence clear in the opening minute of the game when he slipped a through ball behind the defence for Schurrle, only for the former Chelsea winger to see his shot blocked after cutting inside onto his right foot.
Throughout the game, Hamburg dropped back and did not have much possession, but the relentless pressing of Aaron Hunt forced Dortmund’s Roman Burki to rush a clearance in the path of midfielder Walace. However, the Brazilian was unable make the most of this opportunity from 40 yards with the goalkeeper out of position.
Dortmund found it difficult to create many opportunities and it was the tough visitors who registered the game’s first (and only) shot on target in the opening period, Filip Kostic’s cross-goal effort easily held by Burki five minutes before the half-time whistle blew.
The Yellow Wall did not have to wait much longer for something to celebrate about. Batshuayi used his poacher’s instinct to slide Pulisic’s cross-come-shot in at the back post in the 49th minute.
Kagawa looked to be struggling as he limped down the tunnel in the 62nd minute and was replaced by Mahmoud Dahoud and within a minute of the German’s introduction, the substitute mishit his follow-up after Christian Mathenia kept out Schurrle’s effort.
A second goal still looked likely when Dahoud’s off-target shot found Pulisic in space in the six-yard box, but the youngster somehow missed the target from such a short distance out.
Reus was given a pleasant ovation as he left the field for Gotze with 19 minutes remaining and, after Dahoud’s disappointing miss, Gotze made sure of his side’s points in stoppage time by cheekily dinking over Mathenia after a sharp counter-attacking run from Schurrle.
This strong performance lifts Dortmund to 3rd place with a 500th home victory in the division as they look ahead to their Tuesday night fixture against Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League.
Their opponents Hamburg meanwhile, remain in the bottom two in 17th place three points off safety with their fixture against Bayer Leverkusen at home-bound to be a difficult fixture next Saturday.