Salonika – Borussia Dortmund were forced to come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw away to PAOK FC in UEFA Europa League Group C on Thursday night.
1-0 (Mak 34’), 1-1 (Castro 72’)
With one eye on der Klassiker away to FC Bayern München this Sunday, Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel made eight changes from the side that drew with Darmstadt at the weekend. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mats Hummels did not even make the trip to Greece, but BVB nevertheless wrestled control from the off and went close to opening the scoring on a number of occasions through Jonas Hofmann, Marco Reus and Sven Bender.
It was therefore very much against the run of play when PAOK took the lead, with Robert Mak firing past Roman Weidenfeller after beating the offside trap. That goal visibly gave the hosts greater confidence and they subsequently pulled all 11 players behind the ball to defend their lead. Dortmund eventually equalised when Gonzalo Castro’s floated through-ball deceived everyone in the box and ended up in the net. Tuchel’s side looked the more likely to snatch a winner late on, and although they were unable to do so, the point leaves them top of Group C.
Man of the match
This was no vintage performance from Dortmund, especially after going behind, but one man in particular kept them ticking over from midfield: Julian Weigl. The 20-year-old has been a revelation since joining the club over the summer, and his vision, ease on the ball and knack of seemingly always making the right decision – he completed 94 per cent of his passes – set the tone of BVB’s play.
This is the kind of match Dortmund might have lost last season. However, under Tuchel the Yellow-Blacks are increasingly resilient and their patient play against a deep-lying side was eventually rewarded when Castro scored. The result also extended BVB’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 14 games so far in 2015/16.
- Moritz Leitner appeared for Dortmund for the first time since May 2013.
- Dortmund had 21 shots on goal compared to PAOK’s eight.
- Playing in an unfamiliar lone striker’s role, Reus only had 54 touches of the ball all match.
PAOK: Olsen – Konstantinidis, Vitor, Costa, Tzavellas – Sabo, Tziolis, Kace (Charisis 85’) – Mak (Da Silva 73’), Berbatov (Pelkas 89’), Rodrigues
Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Bender, Subotic, Park – Castro, Weigl (Schmelzer 65’) – Hofmann, Mkhitarayn (Ramos 65’), Januzaj (Leitner 84’)- Reus