The finest of margins are often decisive in elite-level sport, and nowhere was that more evident than for Borussia Dortmund’s Anthony Modeste, who lurched from villain to superhero in a matter of minutes in Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Watch: Klassiker highlights!
That is, until Der Klassiker on Matchday 9. Modeste began on the bench at the Signal Iduna Park, with 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko starting up front. But with BVB 2-0 down following goals from Leon Goretzka and Leroy Sane, head coach Edin Terzic introduced the veteran Frenchman in the 70th minute.
It proved to be an inspired substitution – not only for the game itself but potentially for Modeste’s time at the club from this point onwards.
Just four minutes after taking to the pitch, he darted into the Bayern box to collect a ball from Moukoko, before cutting inside Dayot Upamecano and returning a pass to his teenaged teammate to rifle past Manuel Neuer and spark hopes of a fightback.
“In the spell that Tony’s had, where people are talking about how often he hasn’t scored, to lay the ball off like that for [Moukoko’s] goal to get us back in it – huge respect to Tony for that,” head coach Edin Terzic told bundesliga.com at the final whistle.
Watch: Terzic doffs hat to Modeste and BVB
Yet more was to come. Just nine minutes later, Modeste should have equalised when Karim Adeyemi outfoxed Josip Stanisic down the Dortmund right before curling a teasing ball across the six-yard box to the striker, who miscued from close range when it seemed easier to score.
Cue a collective groan from the stands: it seemed the chance to thwart Bayern had gone. “I complained to my teammates during the week because I wasn’t receiving a lot of crosses,” Modeste told Sky Germany afterwards. “That’s why the ball took me by surprise.”
Yet Modeste was not done. In the fifth minute of stoppage time, with Bayern down to 10 men following Kingsley Coman’s dismissal, the forward arrived at the back post to head in Nico Schlotterbeck’s cross and rescue a 2-2 draw in the most dramatic of fashions, sparking wild celebrations throughout the stadium.
“I should have scored two goals today, there’s no denying that,” Modeste said afterwards. “After the first chance I just had to keep my cool because it’s always possible that you’re going to miss a scoring opportunity. At the end I was able to make it 2-2, so that’s the most important thing.
“I’ve had to put up with a lot, but I’ve seen it all before in football,” he continued. “I just have to stay positive and believe in myself.”
His teammates certainly have faith in him, too. “It was an amazing moment for us and for him personally as well,” Niklas Süle said. “A huge moment here. He hasn’t had things easy. I’ve known Tony a long time. He’s a top striker, a top guy. I’m delighted for him.”
Only time will tell just how significant this result, and the manner in which it was achieved, will be for Modeste and Dortmund, but one thing is certain: the Frenchman is setting his sights on glory.
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