Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus scored his first goal since returning from an almost nine-month injury absence as Dortmund sealed a tough 1-0 victory at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Reus, in just his only third appearance since his knee injury in the DFB Pokal final against Eintracht Frankfurt last May, smashed home the winner in the 32nd minute with a brilliant strike.
Dortmund have only lost away from home twice this season, yet the game was the first since the 2015-16 season that they did not score at least three goals against Gladbach.
Players on both teams struggled all game with an uneven pitch that appeared patchy and inconsistent in several areas.
But it was a moment of brilliance from the Dortmund captain as Andre Schurrle’s cross from the left-hand side was dummied by Mario Gotze and found its way to Reus on the other wing, who fired a bullet with his right foot that flew past Yann Sommer and off the Swiss’ crossbar.
For a team that had been struggling for numerous weeks, Monchengladbach looked very threatening and could’ve easily got something this game had it not been for resilient defending from the away side and wasteful finishing from forward Lars Stindl.
There was also a moment of controversy to report as the home side thought they had equalised later on in the first half, but was called back for offside on defender Jannik Vestergaard, after the use of the recently introduced VAR to German football.
From Stindl’s audacious shot that was deflected, the ball ended up at the feet of Jannik Vestergaard, who coolly finished past goalkeeper Roman Burki, but the video assistant referee (VAR) overruled the decision and confirmed that Vestergaard was offside.
Midfielder Thorgan Hazard could’ve also equalised for Monchengladbach just before halftime, but after great individual work, he sliced it off his right foot from the right of the box and sent it well wide of the goal.
It was a first half of few chances and scrappy challenges, this was not helped by the condition of the Borussia-Park which was covered in bumps and bobbles that caused many slip-ups and falls from both sets of players, leaving Gotze to even replace his boots midway through the game.
The second half began and Reus almost scored his second goal of the game in the 61st minute when Götze’s corner fell in-between Dortmund’s Michy Batshuayi and Gladbach’s Reece Oxford, but his well-hit volley was easily held by Sommer.
After this, it was wave after wave of Gladbach attacks with Dortmund showing fans they are able to defend well in order to grind out a result which hasn’t been shown in recent weeks. Burki, who has been questioned about his performances in recent weeks, shone as the home side began to put more and more pressure on Dortmund.
There was time for one final piece of controversy in added time as Gladbach’s Vestergaard was held by Sokratis and despite pleas, the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.
The game finished a slender 1-0 victory for Dortmund and was a well-needed victory with the revival of their season under Peter Stoger well under way.
The victory moved Dortmund back up to second in the Bundesliga on 40 points, 19 behind clear leaders Bayern Munich with third-place RB Leipzig still yet to face Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday.
They will now look forward to their midweek fixture against Italian side Atalanta in their second leg of their Europa League round of 32 stage where they currently boast a 3-2 lead.
Gladbach meanwhile remain mid-table in 10th place, five points off the European places and will be preparing for next Saturday’s game away to Hannover 96.