A brilliant come-from-behind victory in Saturday's late kickoff kept Borussia Dortmund's 2021/22 Champions' League hopes alive, if not on life-support.
In a year during which many Bundesliga watchers expected to be writing about breakthroughs for BVB teenage sensations Giovanni Reyna, "Reiner" Jesus Carvalho, Jude Bellingham, and Youssoufa Moukoko, the overlooked Ansgar Knauff has burst onto the scene to become a hot topic.
The 19-year-old scored what proved the match-winning goal and a vital three points for his club.
|Ansgar Knauff.||Photo: Borussia Dortmund|
In the reverse fixture of what turned out to be the undoing of the former BVB trainer Lucien Favre, Germany's under-fire Schwarzgelben headed to Stuttgart hoping to keep the slimmest hopes of finishing in the top four alive. Thanks to a couple of fabulous teenager's Edin Terzic's club prevailed in a gritty five-goal contest at the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Surprisingly, Terzic opted to forgo significant squad rotations following his side's midweek UCL trip to Manchester. The Dortmund trainer employed only two changes with Giovanni Reyna and Thomas Delaney replacing Ansgar Knauff and Emré Can. VfB gaffer Pellegrino Matarazzo had only one enforced alteration from last week. Injured captain Gonzalo Castro had to withdraw. Defender Atakan Karazor thus started in midfield.
It looked to be another disappointing day for the NRW-visitors. Reyna and Mamoud Dahoud got off some early efforts, but the pair of long-range warning shots were more emblematic of a Dortmund side that once again lacked penetrative ideas. The Swabians then took the lead on their first meaningful offensive push of the game in the 17th.
For the fifth time this season, it was a Borna Sosa-Sasa Kalajdzic co-production. The Croatian winger/wingback hybrid tore up the left flank and let rip with one of his glittering crosses. Stuttgart's Austrian giant of a striker rose to finish with a header back into the left corner. Sosa and Kalajdzic increasingly resemble Filip Kostic and André Silva when it comes to manufacturing goals from the left.
Tanguy Coulibaly, the closely studied replacement for the injured Silas Wamangituka, missed a lovely opportunity to put the hosts up 2-0 at the half-hour mark. Dortmund were certainly back on their heels, producing very underwhelming football for the duration of the opening 45. With Mats Hummels having to be subbed off injured at the break, another disaster seemed to loom.
Instead, it was Gio Reyna setting up Jude Bellingham for the equalizer less than 90 seconds into the second half. Unlike in the recent Champions' League fixture, the young English phenoms goal would count this time. Reyna initiated another splendid attack in the 52nd. The American picked out Mateu Morey, who then set-up Marco Reus for the finish and the lead after Erling Haaland unselfishly let the ball run through.
Haaland couldn't close the game out, however. The Norwegian missed from 13 meters out in the 65th. The misfire nearly came back to bite the BVB. After a furious 15 minute stretch, Kalajdzic capitalized on a Morey error. The VfB attacker then located Coulibaly. All that was needed was a simple layoff for substitute Daniel Didavi. Matarazzo's versatile midfielder tied it up with a 78th minute finish.
Luckily for the BVB, Haaland unleashed the subbed on Knauff two minutes later. The 19-year-old did wonderfully to twist himself into shooting position from 20 meters out and score his maiden Bundesliga goal on just his third appearance. A nervy final ten minutes saw the BVB defense tested by many long balls. Despite some disorganization, the team held as a collective to pick up a pivotal three points.
|5||Konstantinos Mavropanos ↩61|
|4||Marc-Oliver Kempf (C) ↩86|
|7||Tanguy Coulibaly ↩86|
|20||Philipp Förster ↩68|
|31||Mateo Klimowicz ↩61|
|9||Sasa Kalajdzic ⚽|
|15||Pascal Stenzel ↪61|
|10||Daniel Didavi ↪61 ⚽|
|11||Erik Thommy ↪68|
|19||Darko Churlinov ↪86|
|21||Phillipp Klement ↪86|
|2||Mateu Morey ↩84|
|15||Mats Hummels ↩46|
|32||Giovanni Reyna ↩79|
|22||Jude Bellingham ⚽ ↩80|
|11||Marco Reus (C) ⚽ ↩67|
|36||Ansgar Knauff ↪67 ⚽|
|26||Łukasz Piszczek ↪84|
|10||Thorgan Hazard ↪80|
|19||Julian Brandt ↪79|
|23||Emre Can ↪46|