League leaders Borussia Dortmund continued their stay at the top after a scrappy 2-1 win at the WWK Arena against a hard-nosed Augsburg side, despite Aubameyang missing a late penalty. The win also saw Andriy Yarmolenko score his first goal in the Bundesliga and Dortmund extended their lead to 5 points at the top after disappointing results for Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim.
Dortmund came into the game after a loss at home against a mercurial Real Madrid side, another refereeing mistake costing them dearly in this year’s UEFA Champions League. Bosz made a flurry of changes for the Augsburg game, as Marc Bartra, Mahmoud Dahoud, Julian Weigl, Shinji Kagawa and Christian Pulisic came into the starting Xl after a disappointing midweek result. Bosz has been rotating the midfield constantly so as to avoid injuries and the onset of fatigue.
Dortmund started the game brightly as Yarmolenko began teasing Max on the right flank and drove a low cross before Hinteregger cleared it. Augsburg created the first threat on goal as Marcel Heller’s cross was met by Finnbogason, but his header was straight at Burki and there were shouts for a penalty too, but they fell on deaf ears. Dortmund immediately countered as Kagawa had his low shot from just outside the box parried well away for a corner by Marwin Hitz in the Augsburg goal.
Dortmund finally got the better of the Augsburg backline as Pulisic’s corner was not cleared and the loose ball fell to Yarmolenko with his back to goal. Not shy in being cheeky, Yarmolenko tried an audacious back-heel which traveled through a crowd of players before nestling past Hitz to give Dortmund the lead. A brilliant way to score his first ever Bundesliga goal for Borussia Dortmund and the away end were ecstatic and loud as usual.
The game began very openly and the goal just fortified that observation as Augsburg almost immediately pegged one back as miscommunication between Bartra and Burki after Heller’s low cross but Die Schwarzgelben got the ball away to safety. Dortmund kept up the pressure as Piszczek’s cross was punched away, the clearance just evading an onrushing Christian Pulisic. Yarmolenko was the next one to come close as he was afforded acres of space on the right flank but his effort was tame and easily saved.
Dortmund’s defence looked shaky and Augsburg capitalized as Philipp Max’s pinpoint cross was met by Caiuby who was free in the box after another miscommunication, this time between Bartra and Toljan, as the forward headed with aplomb to restore parity 11 minutes into the first half. Dortmund seemed tentative right from the start and the hosts made full use of the nervy backline.
Dortmund came out in full force after the equalizer as Aubameyang came close, his shot forcing a good reaction stop from Hitz after a long ball from Bartra. The match continued in full flow as both teams looked to take the lead, leaving both managers in a tense state at the touchline. Augsburg had two chances to actually cause a threat, but both chances were squandered rather poorly.
Dortmund poised to capitalize on an Augsburg mistake did so and the result was spectacular. Following a long ball from the back, Hinteregger and Max both failed to clear the ball and Aubameyang ran onto the ball on the right side of the box. He cut it back for Yarmolenko who in turn laid it off for an arriving Shinji Kagawa, who instead of crossing the ball for players in the box, launched an exquisitely calculated chip towards the far post beyond the outstretched Hitz for an absolutely wonderful goal. The Japanese netted his 38th goal in the Bundesliga, making him the all-time top scorer for Japanese players in the Bundesliga.
Dortmund have been decisive in the final third but their defence looked very shaky. Dortmund kept up the pressure as Kagawa’s dangerous cross fell to Bartra, the defender failing to make solid contact with the ball. Aubameyang was then given a glorious chance to increase Dortmund’s lead after being put one-on-one by Weigl, but Hitz narrowed the angle enough to force Aubameyang into a mistake before Augsburg cleared their lines. Dortmund came close again as Kagawa’s ball fell to Yarmolenko, but his shot was well blocked. Augsburg looked very nervy at defending set-pieces and were lucky not to concede more.
Rani Khedira got injured and was subbed off for Koo and the Korean almost made an immediate impact as his shot went well over the bar. Dortmund then came close as another brilliant run by Yarmolenko ripped through the Augsburg defence but his cut back for Dahoud saw Dahoud not make good contact with the ball even though it forced Hitz into a save. The last chance of the half fell to Kagawa but his shot went well over the ball.
The second half saw Augsburg begin brightly and looked revitalized after a ragged defensive performance in the first half. Their biggest chance fell to Daniel Baier whose volley just whizzed over the bar, making the fans at the away end very nervous. Augsburg kept up their new found energy and Caiuby almost got his second from a corner but his header was brilliantly saved by Burki.
Augsburg resorted to a barbaric type of game over the game and it was a miracle that there were no yellow cards for an hour into the game before Caiuby got booked for a late tackle on Yarmolenko. The Ukrainian who was constantly hacked by his opponents finally got some respite as he was subbed for Max Philipp. Gregoritsch was the next player to come close for Augsburg as his header from Philipp Max’s cross was well saved by Burki.
The next big chance saw Pulisic open up the Augsburg defence and his cross was met by Aubameyang at the far post, but he continued his dismal day in front of goal as his effort was straight at Hitz, who punched the ball over the bar. The next big moment came in the 78th minute as the VAR awarded Dortmund a penalty after substitute Koo pulled back Piszczek in the box. The following penalty was taken by Aubameyang, and summing up his day, his tame Panenka effort was easily saved by Hitz as he stood firm to easily catch the ball, giving his team a new lease of life.
Caiuby then had two chances to get an equalizer but his lack of composure meant that there was no reprieve for Augsburg. Augsburg had a glorious chance right at the death to snatch an equalizer as Max’s dangerous cross just drifted wide of the post, only needing a touch to go in. Cordova had the last chance to make a difference but his cross with straight at Burki and the referee finally called off the tightly contested affair.
Dortmund who were very nervy in the second half had plenty of opportunities to kill off the game but an out of touch Aubameyang didn’t help their cause. The game also marked Aubameyang’s 200th appearance for the club, a great achievement for the Gabon captain. The game also saw Shinji Kagawa break a record and saw BVB continue their good form in the league after a disappointing start in the UEFA Champions League. With Bayern faltering, let’s see if Dortmund can continue to stretch their lead, but face their sternest test of the league campaign when they face RB Leipzig at the Westfalenstadion in a fortnight.