Dortmund hang on to table-topping win over Leipzig as Reus makes history

Dortmund hang on to table-topping win over Leipzig as Reus makes history

Marco Reus became the joint-second top goalscorer in Borussia Dortmund history, as the club hung on to a massive 2-1 win over title rivals RB Leipzig at Signal Iduna Park, to go top of the Bundesliga.

After Julian Brandt had a goal disallowed, a historic penalty from captain Marco Reus gave BVB the lead, before Emre Can doubled their advantage before half-time.

A second half onslaught ensued from Leipzig, and an Emil Forsberg goal made for a nervy ending for the hosts, but resolute defending sees the club make it 10 straight wins in 2023 to overtake Bayern Munich at the summit of the league.

Team News

Borussia Dortmund

33. Alexander Meyer

17. Marius Wolf

25. Niklas Süle

4. Nico Schlotterbeck

26. Julian Ryerson

19. Julian Brandt

22. Jude Bellingham

23. Emre Can

6. Salih Özcan

11. Marco Reus (C)

9. Sébastien Haller

RB Leipzig

21. Janis Blaswich

39. Benjamin Henrichs

4. Willi Orban (C)

32. Josko Gvardiol

23. Marcel Halstenberg

24. Xaver Schlager

8. Amadou Haidara

17. Dominik Szoboszlai

10. Emil Forsberg

9. Andre Silva

18. Christopher Nkunku

Pre-match discussion

Both teams came into this match likely feeling optimistic. With four points between them, a win would prove to be huge for the title chances of both.

Borussia Dortmund had won all nine of their competitive matches in 2023, while RB Leipzig had lost just one of their previous 22 games in all competitions.

Having been revolutionised since the arrival of former BVB boss Marco Rose, Leipzig would’ve felt especially confident, having won each of their past three encounters against the Black and Yellows.

The most recent of those came back in September, when ‘die Roten Bullen’ ran out 3-0 winners at the Red Bull Arena, where Alexander Meyer made his Dortmund debut in goal, after his summer arrival from second division Jahn Regensburg.

Borussia Dortmund's Gregor Kobel attempts to stop RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku

Gregor Kobel was injured at that time, meaning Meyer had a run in the team.

Having conceded eight goals in his four league starts, the Signal Iduna Park faithful didn’t feel massively confident upon learning of the 31-year-old’s return to their starting 11, due to an injury the formidable Kobel had sustained in the warm-ups.

In front of the Yellow Wall, though, Edin Terzic’s side always have a chance, regardless of past records.

Along with Meyer’s return, Terzic made two other changes to the side that edged past Hoffenheim by a goal to nil last week.

These saw Julian Ryerson return from a minor injury in place of Raphael Guerreiro at left-back, while Salih Özcan came in to provide an extra body and physical presence in midfield, with Marco Reus moving into a wide position, replacing Jamie Bynoe-Gittens.

It was set to be a tense evening of Friday night football, with title hopes on the line.

90 minute overview

To start the match, Marco Rose’s men looked the more dangerous of the two teams, with the returning Christopher Nkunku posing great danger on the counter-attack.

Just minutes in he was denied by an expert last ditch Nico Schlotterbeck challenge, before minutes later, the Frenchman outpaced Emre Can and opened up his body when through on goal, only to bend the ball wide of the far post.

The hosts had to wake up, and that’s exactly what they did, as the momentum shifted soon after.

On the 13 minute mark a stunning Jude Bellingham ball over the top of the RB Leipzig defence found Julian Brandt, who brought the ball down before drilling it into the far bottom corner.

The 26-year-old thought he had opened the scoring with his fifth goal in as many Bundesliga matches, but VAR adjudged that the German had controlled the ball with his hand. Thus the goal was disallowed.

However, with 20 minutes on the clock, Marius Wolf sent Marco Reus through on goal. The BVB captain knocked the ball past the Leipzig ‘keeper Janis Blaswich, who was ruled to have clipped Reus for a penalty.

The man who won the spot kick stepped up to take it, and made no mistake with an ice cool effort, which had too much power for Blaswich.

Despite guessing the correct way, the goalkeeper couldn’t prevent a Dortmund legend from becoming the club’s second all-time record goalscorer (159).

Having broken the deadlock, the Black and Yellows sought to control the game, and for the most part that was the case.

But later in the half, they were fortunate to avoid conceding, when an Emil Forsberg cross following a corner was volleyed over the bar from close range by Marcel Halstenberg.

With six minutes of the half to play, Edin Terzic’s side had a corner of their own. This was cleared as far as Emre Can, who struck the ball on the half-volley.

The ball bounced after a deflection from Schlotterbeck and deceived Blaswich, finding the roof of the net and doubling the hosts’ advantage.

Second half

There wasn’t quite so much action in the second half; the majority of the action came at the other end of the pitch.

Minutes in, Andre Silva saw an outrageous toe-poked effort from a wide angle go just wide of the far post.

At the other end, Dortmund then came close with a dangerous free-kick from range going narrowly wide, with Salih Özcan close to dispatching from close range.

However, that was the Black and Yellows’ final chance for quite some time.

Silva soon found himself through on goal again and was denied by a big save from Alexander Meyer. Moments later, Dominik Szoboszlai found space on the edge of his opponents’ area before his curling effort flew whiskers wide of the top corner.

But that pressure would be made to count soon after; on the 74 minute mark a wonderful looped Xaver Schlager ball found David Raum in space on the left hand side of the 18-yard box.

The substitute put the ball on a plate for Forsberg at the far post, who converted on the slide, to pull his side back into the game.

Firmly in formation, the eight-time Bundesliga champions were pegged in their own half.

Unable to carve out any chances on the break, Terzic brought on reinforcements such as Mats Hummels to shore up the defence and introduce fresh legs for what was to be a long final 15 minutes.

It was a case of backs against the wall for BVB.

In the final minutes of regular time, Forsberg came close with a deflected effort from range, before Yussuf Poulsen headed the ball just over Meyer’s crossbar.

But Marco Rose’s side weren’t done there; deep into stoppage time, a nicely-worked move saw another substitute Timo Werner given a golden chance in space at the back post.

His cross-goal attempt was cleared off the line by Schlotterbeck. Hearts were certainly in the mouths of the 81,365 in attendance in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In the dying embers, such was the case once more, as a corner fell to Forsberg who lashed the ball goal bound but into the palms of Meyer, who stood up to the test yet again.

As the final whistle sounded, relief poured out of all in black and yellow at Signal Iduna Park, as Borussia Dortmund earned a colossal win in this Bundesliga title race.

Standout performers

There wasn’t a bad individual performance from a single Borussia Dortmund player tonight.

Sébastien Haller didn’t see too much of the ball, while the substitutes only saw a small amount of minutes or were introduced at a time where Dortmund could do nothing but defend.

But as a collective unit, the team dug deep, put in the hard yards and fought for the three points. Given the tension in the air, you could feel the magnitude of the occasion and the importance of a potential win.

A lot of credit must go to Alexander Meyer in the BVB goal. Just minutes before kick-off, he didn’t know he was to start. All was set for the ever-reliable Gregor Kobel to go out and defend that goal.

But despite the fans’ nerves, Meyer stood up and performed admirably, making four saves, most of which of great importance and skill.

In front of him, the defence was very solid. In particular, Nico Schlotterbeck was a wall. From that last ditch tackle on Nkunku early on to the last gasp goal-line clearance denying Timo Werner, the 23-year-old left everything out on the pitch, to ensure his side claimed all three points.

Also, in the first half, Jude Bellingham, Marco Reus and Julian Brandt linked up very well but less was required of them offensively in the second.

Overall, each player in black and yellow knew what they had to do; they played for each other, they played for the badge and they played for a monumental victory.

Tonight could certainly be a game upon which BVB look back in May and see as season-defining.

Only time will tell, but for now, the statement is sent and Edin Terzic’s side lead the Bundesliga.

Bundesliga Table

  1. Borussia Dortmund – 49 points (P:23)
  2. Bayern Munich – 46 points (P:22)
  3. Union Berlin – 43 points (P:22)
  4. RB Leipzig – 42 points (P:23)
  5. Freiburg – 41 points (P:22)
  6. Eintracht Frankfurt – 38 points (P:22)