There was double reason to celebrate for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday as they earned a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Arminia Bielefeld in a match in which Erling Haaland made his long-awaited comeback from injury.
The Norwegian had not played for more than seven weeks but his presence on the bench perhaps gave his teammates a lift early on as they tussled with their visitors in an end-to-end encounter. Donyell Malen hit the post in the eighth minute, with Masaya Okugawa replying shortly afterwards with a shot that stung the palms of Gregor Kobel. It was Dortmund who took the lead though, as the lively Marius Wolf got on the end of Thorgan Hazard’s cross from the right to flick in from close range. Buoyed by their advantage, the home side pushed for more, with Malen lashing a shot just over and Axel Witsel volleying wide of the target, but there were no further goals before the interval.
Bielefeld regrouped during the break and went on the front foot after the restart, Bryan Lasme in particular proving a handful for the home defence to deal with. Robin Hack forced Kobel into another smart save before Dortmund coach Marco Rose reacted by bringing on Haaland and Gio Reyna – likewise returning from injury – in an effort to change the tide of the game. The latter very nearly sealed the points in the closing stages following a flowing counter-attacking involving Julian Brandt and Haaland, who back-heeled the ball into his path, only for the USA international to poke his shot agonisingly wide of the far post. Both teams sought a decisive late goal as the full-time whistle approached, but Dortmund held on to close the gap on leaders Bayern Munich to seven points, with a game in hand.
- Haaland made his comeback and first appearance since sustaining an injury against Hoffenheim on 22 January.
- Axel Witsel captained Dortmund in the Bundesliga for the first time ever, owing to the absences of Marco Reus and Mats Hummels. He previously wore the skipper's armband once in the UEFA Champions League on 4 November 2020.
- USA international George Bello made his starting debut for Bielefeld, following four substitute appearances.
- With 16 goals in 14 matches, Haaland is averaging a goal every 72 minutes - the best goals-per-minute ratio in this season’s Bundesliga.
- Wolf scored his second goal of the season, both of which have arrived in the last three games.
- Hazard's assist was his first in the Bundesliga in 2021/22.
Watch: Reyna: "Everyone knows what Haaland brings to the table"
Dortmund: Kobel - Passlack (Maloney 85'), Can, Pongracic, Schulz - Dahoud, Witsel (c), Bellingham - Wolf (Brandt 70'), Malen (Haaland 63'), Hazard (Reyna 63')
Unused subs: Hitz, Coulibaly, Reinier
Out: Akanji (calf), Guerreiro (not included), Hummels (not included), Meunier (muscular), Morey (knee), Moukoko (hamstring), Reus (ill), Schmelzer (knee), Tigges (ankle), Zagadou (thigh)
Coach: Marco Rose
Bielefeld: Ortega (c) - Brunner, Pieper, Andrade, Bello - Vasiliadis, Schöpf - Wimmer (Ince 90'), Okugawa, Hack (Klos 77') - Lasme
Unused subs: Kapino, Prietl, Schulz, Chemy, Bauer, Dogan, Frommann
Out: Castro (not included), de Medina (not included), Laursen (not included), Nilsson (not included), Ramos (not included)
Coach: Frank Kramer
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