Dortmund beat Wolfsburg to close in on Bayern ahead of title showdown
Borussia Dortmund warmed up for Tuesday’s top-of-the-table clash against Bayern Munich with a 2-0 win at Wolfsburg on the second weekend of the Bundesliga’s restart after the coronavirus-enforced suspension.
Goals by Raphael Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi sealed an away win behind closed doors to leave Dortmund a point behind league leaders Bayern.
On Tuesday, Dortmund host defending champions Bayern, who were facing Eintracht Frankfurt later on Saturday.
Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said the lack of fans’ noise in the stadium helped him give instructions.
“I think it’s positive that the players can now hear me better in the stadium,” said Dortmund’s Swiss coach, whose calls echoed around the empty terraces.
“Normally only my wide players can understand me.”
This was the second weekend of the Bundesliga’s restart, following a two-month hiatus, as the first top European league to resume during the pandemic.
A minute’s silence was held before the afternoon’s four matches to remember the victims of COVID-19, which has so far claimed 8,216 lives in Germany.
In Wolfsburg, Portugal winger Guerreiro, who netted twice in last week’s 4-0 derby thrashing of Schalke, opened the scoring in the 32nd minute.
Erling Braut Haaland, who had scored 10 goals in nine league games since joining in January from Red Bull Salzburg, mistimed his attempt to meet a cross, but Guerreiro was on hand to tap home.
Dortmund had a let-off early in the second-half when Wolfsburg winger Renato Steffen clipped the crossbar.
England winger Jadon Sancho helped sealed the win when he dribbled at the Wolfsburg defence, then laid a pass off to Hakimi, who fired home 12 minutes from time.
In the final minutes, Wolfsburg had replacement Felix Klaus sent off for fouling Hakimi.
“We showed right after the start of the match that we wanted to win,” added Favre.
– Fans’ figures –
Bayer Leverkusen built on Monday’s drubbing of Werder Bremen by moving up to a third-place with a 3-1 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach, who dropped to fourth.
With the terraces at Borussia Park decked with 13,000 cardboard cut-outs of home fans, Leverkusen’s rising star Kai Havertz, who scored twice in the 4-1 rout of Bremen, again netted twice.
“Kai Havertz played a bit better than he did against Bremen,” said Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz.
“But it’s not about Kai, it was a top performance from the team and Kai was part of that.”
With seven minutes gone, Havertz, 20, darted onto Karim Bellarabi’s pass into the area and fired home.
French forward Marcus Thuram levelled for Gladbach just after the break.
Havertz netted a penalty soon after when the video assistant referee spotted a foul on Bellarabi in the area.
Defender Sven Bender unwittingly sealed the win when a free-kick struck his shoulder and flew into the net nine minutes from time.
Second-from-bottom Werder Bremen claimed their first victory in eight league game with a 1-0 win at Freiburg.
Midfielder Leon Bittencourt hit the winner in the 19th minute with a long-range shot.
In the dying stages, Bremen had defender Philipp Bargfrede sent off for a second yellow card and Freiburg had a goal ruled offside.
The result leaves Bremen two points from 16th — which carries a relegation play-off at the end of the season — but six points from 15th, which guarantees safety.
Bottom side Paderborn are now nine points from safety with seven games left after their 1-1 draw at home to Hoffenheim.
On Friday, Hertha Berlin drubbed neighbours Union Berlin 4-0 at the Olympic Stadium in the derby to go 10th.