Borussia Dortmund returns to the summit of the Bundesliga after another noteworthy league performance to dispatch Bayer Leverkusen 3-0.
A mix of ferociously fast, incisive attacking football and excellent game management has dispatched every challenge, which has stood before them since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel this summer. Dortmund has won 11 games out of 11 and scored 39 goals in all competitions in 2015/16.
Jonas Hofmann returned to the side in place of Adnan Januzaj and rewarded his coach with two match-winning moments. First, he composed himself for the opening goal before his skill set the home side clear as Shinji Kagawa notched up his second league goal of the season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his sixth goal in five leagues from the penalty spot late on.
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Leverkusen was perhaps hard done by with some poor refereeing decisions in the second half not to be given a life line but Tuchel’s men remain very impressive in the final-third. Dortmund are playing with the same gusto and purpose from their two championship winning seasons under the tutelage of Jürgen Klopp.
At the nerve center of everything positive is the reborn Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian cushioned a pass on 13 minutes, striking accurately on target, but into Bernd Leno’s arms. Inside a few yards is where Kagawa is spending most of his time these days as he links midfield and attack in Tuchel’s system.
On the right, Hofmann deputized for Marco Reus to good effect, almost breaking the deadlock on 17 minutes when was thwarted by Leno. Despite having two bites at the cherry, he didn’t show too much conviction in the box. But within two minutes – after Javier Hernandez had missed a golden chance – he put Dortmund in the driving seat with the game’s opener.
The impressive Kagawa was pivotal on the counterattack, making space for the pass and lifting the ball over the Leverkusen defense to put Hofmann in the clear for the first goal. The industrious right-winger carried on his run to chase the bouncing ball, while others paused; his intentional drop of the shoulder enough to deceive Leno before he stroked the ball into the net.
The combinations in attack were a joy to behold in the first 30 minutes. Matthias Ginter, discovering a new niche at right-back, drove the ball inside, intended for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who carried the defenders away with his run, only for Mkhitaryan to blaze his final shot over the bar.
Although Tuchel’s side shine in attack, defensive issues are pertinent from time-to-time. Leverkusen finally launched men forward on 37 minutes, the ball worked across to former Dortmund player Kevin Kampl who stung the palms of Roman Bürki from the right-corner of the box.
Roger Schmidt was evidently unsatisfied with the first-half showing and played his two joker cards: the inclusion of Admir Mehmedi and Julian Brandt. Leverkusen sacrificed the experience of Stefan Kießling and the defensive protection of Christoph Kramer in sake of an equalizer.
But Dortmund took full advantage of the open spaces, the wing-play of Hofmann decisive to create the second goal. He dummied the ball through Wendell’s legs, cutting the ball back where nice interplay between Ilkay Gundogan and Mkhitaryan set up Kagawa who toe-poked the ball into the net.
After a strong first season in Germany, Wendell appears to one of Leverkusen’s weak points at the minute. The Brazilian pulled down Matthias Ginter for in the box and Aubameyang dispatched the penalty excellently on 72 minutes. And before too long, it was three going on five or six.
Substitute Januzaj missed an open goal less than a minute later after the draw back from Aubameyang, while Kagawa was denied by some excellent reactions from Leverkusen’s number one keeper, Leno.
Leverkusen didn’t muster a comeback as Benjamin Henrichs made his Bundesliga debut for the club having scored in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday. Dortmund’s dominance should have resulted in another 4-0 thrashing of one of Germany’s Champions League representatives, but Leno did his best to keep the score down.
Managing three different competitions has yet to prove a burden for either Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich – and they both end the run with 100% records. The pair are building up to a crucial showdown in Munich on October 4.
But first, the yellow-and-blacks head for Hoffenheim in midweek, while Leverkusen looks to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat in the Bundesliga when Mainz comes calling.