Match coverage

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 RB Leipzig: Goals from Reus, Can see BVB back top of the Bundesliga

Dortmund's German forward Marco Reus celebrates with Dortmund's Turkish midfielder Salih Ozcan and Dortmund's German midfielder Emre Can scoring a...

First-half goals from Emre Can and a Marco Reus penalty saw an in-form Borussia Dortmund side extend their winning run to ten games across all competitions, returning top of the Bundesliga after a hard-fought 2-1 home victory against rivals RB Leipzig. Emil Forsberg pulled one back for Marco Rose’s side, before they almost snatched a point at the death in stoppage-time.

2023 marks BVB’s best start to a calendar year

Emre Can of Borussia Dortmund is celebrating his goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig at Signal Iduna Park on...
Can wheels away to celebrate his first goal of the campaign

Borussia Dortmund were the last team not named Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga (2011-12) under Jurgen Klopp with Robert Lewandowski leading the line.

It’s a topic of conversation when discussing just how good Germany’s top-tier really is, given there’s not much top competition. BVB have consistently proven themselves to be the second-best side in a space described as a one-team league.

So digging their heels in defensively and winning without playing their best – against an RB Leipzig side with lofty ambitions themselves – is commendable.

Tougher challenges await them shortly, including a Champions League second leg away trip to west London on Tuesday, but now is time to savour the moment.

After all it hasn’t always been this way, but tonight had plenty of high-octane, free-flowing football that observers have come to expect from Dortmund games.

They had their summer defensive acquisition Nico Schlotterbeck to thank for keeping their 10-match winning streak intact late on, something foreshadowed by his big sliding challenge on an ineffective Christopher Nkunku three minutes in.

Dominik Szoboszlai, Nkunku and Amadou Haidara all tried their luck from distance early on to test Dortmund’s second-choice goalkeeper Alexander Meyer, thrust into a starting role after Gregor Kobel sustained a muscle injury during the warm-up.

They were all to no avail, though Julian Brandt thought he’d opened the scoring after 13 minutes.

Jude Bellingham’s probing lofted pass split the Leipzig defence, the 26-year-old timed his run perfectly and steered a strike into the far corner on the half-volley.

VAR review adjudged him to have handled the ball and it was correctly cancelled shortly afterwards. Four minutes later, Josko Gvardiol made a big sliding block to thwart Brandt from scoring again on the Croatian’s 50th league appearance.

Josko Gvardiol of RB Leipzig and Julian Brandt of Borussia Dortmund battle for the ball during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and RB...
Gvardiol blocks Brandt’s goalbound effort, minutes after the German had an opener ruled out

There would be more defensive work to come. No-one could’ve foreseen what happened two minutes later: Marco Reus hauled down by Janis Blaswich in the Leipzig box, a penalty swiftly awarded and tucked away by the dependable captain.

Now their joint second all-time goalscorer with 159 across all competitions, you can’t help but wonder how many he’d be on if he didn’t have such rotten injury luck.

Nonetheless, Dortmund’s lead went from slender to comfortable after 39 minutes. Marcel Halstenberg almost equalised at one end, then gave away a debatable free-kick leading to the hosts’ second goal moments later.

Replays showed Brandt deceived the referee to win a foul, from which the delivery was partially cleared but only as far as Emre Can.

He let fly from distance, volleying into the ground, and Blaswich was unsighted as the ball fizzed through bodies towards him and into the far top corner.

A two-goal deficit felt harsh on Leipzig, who did well to settle themselves down and pose intermittent threats shortly after half-time.

An open, ebb-and-flow second-half

Reus could’ve completed a brace midway through the second-half, but for an acrobatic stop by Blaswich over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Meyer was called into action too: Andre Silva was largely quiet, but should’ve done better in the box after Forsberg’s through ball was inadvertently dummied through by Nkunku.

He opened up his body, looking to sidefoot towards the far corner, though Meyer had other ideas and blocked him with a smart diving stop at close-range.

The pressure intensified as Szoboszlai curled narrowly wide after a well-worked passing move on the edge of the Dortmund box, before Forsberg pulled one back after 74 minutes.

Emil Forsberg of Leipzig scores his side's first goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig at Signal Iduna Park on...
Sliding it in: Forsberg makes no mistake at the far post after Raum’s fizzing ball

Xavier Schlager’s excellent ball forward gave David Raum an opportunity to fire goalwards with space and time on his side – the fullback did just that.

Forsberg slid home the final touch as the ball trickled through Schlotterbeck’s legs on the way through to the far post.

The 23-year-old didn’t know much about it, and probably would’ve scored an own goal if he had got a touch – such was his proximity to goal – but perhaps it’s fitting.

As his contribution proved crucial in stoppage-time: clearing substitute Timo Werney’s volley off the line after a clever Gvardiol crossfield pass. Forsberg couldn’t do better as Meyer was equal to his hopeful effort, and the match was over.

What’s next? 

As mentioned, Dortmund will now look ahead to finishing the job in their Champions League last-16 second leg tie against Graham Potter’s volatile Chelsea (1-0 agg).

Bayern travel to VfB Stuttgart in tomorrow’s evening kick-off, looking to provide the perfect response – having drawn 2-2 in each of their last two previous meetings.

RB Leipzig sit seven points adrift of the leaders after this result, but have a similar European assignment in England the following week too.

Having snatched a 1-1 first leg draw last month, they look to cause an upset against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Feb. 14. Before then, they entertain mid-table Borussia Monchengladbach next Saturday lunchtime.

Picture source: Getty Images