Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 2
(0 - 2)
J. Njinmah (70)
D. Malen (21), J. Sancho (38), M. Sabitzer (45)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Shorthanded Dortmund hold off Bremen to keep top-four place

Borussia Dortmund have secured their second consecutive league victory - and sixth since the turn of the calendar year - with a 2-1 away win over SV Werder Bremen on Saturday evening. Dortmund will finish the weekend in fourth-place thanks to the result.

Edin Terzic's BVB had to play the second half of their match-day 25 fixture shorthanded following Marcel Sabitzer's sending off on a straight red. A two-goal halftime cushion proved sufficient for the Westphalians to secure all three points. 
Edin Terzic's Borussia Dortmund have managed to keep pace with Marco Rose's RB Leipzig and maintain their place in the top-four after doing the double over Ole Werner's SV Werder Bremen in Saturday evening's "Top-Spiel". Terzic's BVB responded to Leipzig's win earlier in the day with a 2-1 victory over the top-flight's Hanseatic city-state side at the Weserstadion. Die Schwarzgelben were forced to defend a 2-0 halftime lead during the second 45 minutes shorthanded, yet were still able to hang on.

Terzic made two two changes to the XI that defeated Union Berlin last week. First-choice keeper Gregor Kobel finally returned to reclaim his regular place between the sticks. Donyell Malen was also back after serving his one-game suspension. Together, the returning duo dispatched two of last week's top performers - Alexander Meyer and Karim Adeyemi - back to the bench. Werner also had a returnee in the form of captain Marco Friedl, who took back over for placeholder Christian Groß in central defense. Justin Njinmah was also preferred to Nick Woltemade in attack.

The hosting Hanseaten mostly sat deep for the opening 20 minutes, content to allow Dortmund to keep possession and lurk for opportunities on the counterattack. The strategy ultimately ended up backfiring when the Westphalians scored on their first real chance of the game. Malen stuffed home the rebound of a Julian Brandt effort for the 1-0 in the 21st. Werner's side remained far too passive after the opening goal. Terzic's team kept a firm hold on the game and scored the second in the 38th.

This time Jadon Sancho - with the help of a deflection - finally celebrated his first goal back in BVB colors since re-joining the club on loan this past January. Brandt and Niclas Füllkrug were involved in some neat set-up work that nevertheless was made far too easy by the loose-marking SV midfield and defensive ranks. Just when it appeared as if the match was permanently slipping out of their reach, however, Bremen were granted a lifeline shortly before the half when Dortmund were reduced to ten men.

Match official Deniz Aytekin ruled that Marcel Sabitzer's open-sole stomp on Mitchell Weiser's heel at 45+1 was worthy of a straight red. Terzic reacted to the sending off by bringing on Mats Hummels for Malen at the half and reverting to a back-five. The north Germans pressed higher and more courageously after the restart, yet couldn't manage much against the compact and deep-sided Dortmund side apart from some distance efforts wide from Njinmah and his fellow striker Marvin Ducksch.

As the half-hour-mark passed, the best chance of the second 45 actually belonged to Dortmund's Füllkrug. The former Bremen striker nearly scored off a counter in the 61st, stopped only by a strong block from Anthony Jung. The chess match was then on as both coaches attempted to adjust their tactics via a series of substitutions. Bremen's pull-back goal still came from a relatively simple play.

A long ball from Ducksch was picked up by Romano Schmid after Hummels missed the ball on a poor slide tackle. Schmid switched over to the completely open Njinmah, who was able to slide the 1-2 in easily from close range in the 71st. Werder were able to generate a couple more quality chances down the stretch with Njinmah and Weiser coming close.

There would nonetheless be no more goals and Bremen's press dried up and the team found it difficult to remain onside during the attack charges. Ducksch squandered perhaps the best opportunity to help his side secure a point with poor execution of a free-kick from a promising position at 90+3. BVB sub Ramy Bensebaini missed a chance at the 3-1 with a strike of the post at 90+6.

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Bundesliga - Leverkusen - Bremen