A 77th minute penalty a late Erling Haaland goal ensured Borussia Dortmund earned their first win of the 2020/21 Champions League campaign.
German football enthusiasts witnessed a far more active Lucien Favre on Wednesday evening as the BVB trainer shouted in vain to his team from the Signal Iduna Park sidelines. Favre shouted at his XI to build more wide attacks in a tight match against visiting Zenit St. Petersburg.
The Swiss head coach retained his new his latest 4-2-3-1, debuted only recently in the weekend fixture against Schalke. In terms of personnel changes, Marco Reus replaced Julian Brandt in the attacking ten spot. Midfield general Axel Witsel took over for Thomas Delaney to pair with Mahmoud Dahoud in midfield.
The Schwarzgelben patiently built some aestethically pleasing attacks, yet were only able to produce goalward chances from set-pieces in the opening half hour. A hesitant Roman Bürki nearly let in a howler in the 35th. Jadon Sancho did find some gaps before the halftime whistle, putting through Marco Reus and Erling Haaland in the 36th and 42nd, respectively. Both attackers ultimately missed the target.
Heavy rain began to fall in Dortmund approximately fifteen minutes after the restart. The German UCL representatives looked to have the upper hand, executing quality diagonal shifts and successfully dispossessing their Russian guests frequently enough. Dahoud and the substituted on Thorgan Hazard both got looks in from distance.
Just when it appeared time might be running out for Favre's men, Zenit's Vyacheslav Karavaev dragged down Hazard by the shoulder on a lost aerial challenge in the box. Sancho kept his nerve to convert the ensuing spot kick in the 77th. The outcome seemed beyond any doubt in what was now a torrential downpour.
Zenit didn't dare challenge much in the wet and slick conditions. Dortmund nevertheless executed a final moment of class on the rain-soaked pitch. Substitute Jude Bellingham unleashed Haaland to do what Haaland happens to do best. The Norwegian goal-machine cooly slipped the ball between the Zenit keeper's legs from close range to make it 2-0 at 90+2.