Freiburg - Borussia Dortmund tightened their grip on second place in the Bundesliga thanks to a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened SC Freiburg at the MAGE SOLAR Stadion on Sunday.
Captain Sebastian Kehl netted the only goal of the game against his former club as Dortmund, without the injured Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus, completed back-to-back wins to move four points clear of third-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Freiburg remain second from bottom after missing an opportunity to move out of the bottom three.
For the first time this season, Robert Lewandowski's name was missing from the Borussia Dortmund team sheet with injury, depriving Jürgen Klopp of his side's top goalscorer. Without the Pole, they also appeared to lack ideas in attack, managing just three shots in the entire first half, not one from inside the penalty area.
Credit for that must also go to Freiburg and their newly-capped German international Matthias Ginter, who did an admirable job in keeping right winger Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at arm's length while Julian Schieber, making his first start since May, could not get into the groove as the central striker.
The better chances actually came at the other end of the field, where Philipp Zulechner was taking the chance to impress on his first start of the season. Sokratis Papastathopoulos had his hands full dealing with the livewire Austrian, who scored 15 goals in the Austrian Bundesliga for SV Grödig before moving to Freiburg in the winter. After the Greek defender blocked one shot, he lunged in to end the Austrian's lightning-fast burst towards the penalty area, earning himself a yellow card.
A mix-up in communication between Aubameyang and Lukasz Piszczek just before the interval was symptomatic of Dortmund's toils in the absence of Lewandowski. Something had to change in the second half, and it did with Henrikh Mkhitaryan leading the revival. Finally the spaces began to open up and BVB began to test Freiburg keeper Oliver Baumann. Schieber skewed a fierce drive wide just after the interval, but the game finally had the goal it craved when Kevin Großkreutz carried the ball in from the left and Kehl stole it off his feet to curl a left-foot shot over Baumann from just outside the area.
It was the Borussia skipper's first effort since April 2012, a run of 35 games without a goal ended at the club where he launched his career before his move to Westphalia in 2002. Almost immediately afterwards, Klopp then withdrew Kehl’s midfield partner Nuri Sahin and sent on Oliver Kirch, both to preserve the lead and the legs of Sahin with the return of their UEFA Champions League tie with FC Zenit in mind.
Freiburg pushed for a leveller, which inevitably presented the visitors with opportunity to put the result beyond doubt. Shortly after Aubameyang was denied by the offside flag, he timed his next run to perfection to bear down on Baumann, but Jonas Hofmann skied his effort from the Gabonese international’s pass. Großkreutz and Aubameyang then went close with late pot-shots, but one goal was enough for Klopp’s men to edge a closely-contested affair.
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