Borussia Dortmund star pairing Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland both found the back of the net as BVB got their Champions League campaign up and running with a 2-0 win over Zenit Saint Petersburg at the Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night.
DORTMUND 2-0 ZENIT
Goals: 1-0 Sancho (79'), 2-0 Haaland (90+1')
The first half quickly settled into a rhythm that would last the bulk of the opening 45 minutes; Dortmund in possession trying to break down a stubborn Zenit with 11 men behind the ball, looking to hit the hosts on the counter when they eventually won it back. It made for frustrating stuff for Lucien Favre’s men, who often found themselves crowded out on the edge of the visitors’ box. Half chances from Gio Reyna’s half volley and then captain Marco Reus’ drive at the near post were as close as they came to scoring, until Haaland uncharacteristically fired wide when through on goal shortly before half time as the two sides went in level at the break.
The second period picked up where the first left off and Haaland again went close to putting his side in front but couldn’t quite latch onto a cross from the right, before Reus rattled a post but was found to be offside in the build-up. Zenit barely got out of their half after the break, but their resistance remained unmoved no matter how much Dortmund huffed and puffed. It looked as though the game was destined for a goalless draw, but with just over 10 minutes remaining substitute Thorgan Hazard was felled in the penalty area, allowing Sancho to tuck home the resulting penalty and finally give Dortmund the lead. Haaland then put the seal on victory as he raced clear and slotted home in stoppage time, as the Black and Yellows earned a hard-fought - and deserved - three points.
- Sancho's penalty was his second goal of the season and first outside of the DFB Cup.
- Dortmund have won each of their last four home games in the Champions League.
- Haaland now has 12 goals in just 10 Champions League appearances across his time at both Red Bull Salzburg and Dortmund.
- These sides have been drawn together once before, Dortmund beating Zenit 5-4 on aggregate in the 2013/14 Champions League last 16.
- BVB finished second behind Barcelona in their section last season, collecting 10 points to finish ahead of Inter Milan and Slavia Prague.
Dortmund: Bürki - Meunier, Hummels, Akanji, Guerreiro - Dahoud (Hazard 67'), Witsel - Sancho (Delaney 84'), Reus (c) (Brandt 74'), Reyna (Bellingham 84') - Haaland
Unused subs: Hitz, Morey, Reinier, Piszczek, Passlack, Raschi
Out: Can (suspended), Schmelzer (knee), Zagadou (knee)
Coach: Lucien Favre
Zenit: Kerzhakov - Karavaev, Lovren, Rakitskiy, Santos - Wendel, Barrios (Sutormin 81'), Erokhin - Kuzyaev (Ozdoev 71'), Driussi (Zhirkov 74') - Dzyuba (c) (Mostovoy 46')
Unused subs: Vasyutin, Lunev, Krugovoi, Musaev, Prokhin, Shamkin
Out: Chistyakov (ineligible), Malcom (knee), Azmoun (ill)
Coach: Sergei Semak
As it happened
THAT'S A WRAP
Thank you to everyone who joined us for what was a tough fixture for Dortmund, but they got there in the end to wrap up their first points of the new Champions League season. Elsewhere in Group F, Club Brugge and Lazio shared a 1-1 draw, while RB Leipzig were beaten 5-0 by Manchester United in Group H.
90+3 FULL TIME
It's all over in Dortmund, with Sancho and Haaland striking late to earn Dortmund a much deserved, yet hard-fought, three points.
90+1' HAALAND SCORES!
He has his customary goal as the big man races clear and slots beyond the onrushing Zenit 'keeper to put the seal on victory.
90+1' THREE MINUTES ADDED ON
Into the final throws...
89' DORTMUND HOLDING FIRM
Zenit have finally tried venturing out of their shell, but to no avail. Dortmund look in complete control and should see this out.
84' DORTMUND SUBSTITUTIONS
Goalscorer Sancho and Reyna are both replaced, Bellingham and Delaney on in their place. Not long to go now.
79' SANCHO SCORES!
Sancho steps up to take the penalty and sends the 'keeper the wrong way to finally put Dortmund in front.
77' PENALTY TO DORTMUND
Here we go...
75' BÜRKI IN TROUBLE
Shortly after those changes Dortmund almost undo themselves as Guerreiro volleys the ball back to his goalkeeper who has to head it off his line as he can't touch it with his hands.
Brandt is on for Dortmund captain Reus, while Driussi is replaced by Zhirkov.
71' ZENIT SUBSTITUTION
Ozdoev is on for Kuzyaev in a straight-swap for the visitors.
70' JUST 20 MINUTES TO GO
Can Dortmund finally break Zenit down?
67' NARROWLY WIDE
Dahoud tries his luck from 25-yards out and his shot is a good one but still goes wide of the Zenit goal. That's his last contribution, with Hazard on in his place.
63' NOTHING GIVING
Sancho looks to thread a ball through to Haaland or Reyna, but ends up splitting the difference and can't find either. Dortmund still missing a touch of finesse around the Zenit box.
59' TIME FOR A CHANGE?
Dortmund do have plenty of options on the bench - Hazard, Brandt, Reinier and Bellingham, among them - and you have to wonder if they may start looking toward it for more penetration. They certainly need it right now.
53' NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED
As with the first half, the start to this second period has, again, settled into a pattern of Dortmund in control of the ball and Zenit stubbornly sitting deep.
48' REUS... HITS THE POST!
The Dortmund skipper does well to turn and get his shot away in the Zenit area but he strikes the upright. It wouldn't have counted as the linesman's flag eventually goes up for offside.
46' ZENIT SUBSTITUTION
Dzyuba is the man who makes way, with Mostovoy on in his place. Possibly a change in tact from Zenit?
46' BACK UNDERWAY
We've also had a change in the ranks fo the visitors...
WILL SOMETHING GIVE?
That was largely a frustrating half if you're a Dortmund fan as they met a wall of Zenit defenders every time they attacked. They will be encouraged by Haaland finding space behind the Russian's defence towards the end of the first 45, but will also be thinking they'd be 1-0 up on any other day when you consider the 20-year-old's usual ruthlessness.
45+1' HALF TIME
That's the whistle for half time at the Signal Iduna Park, where these two are level.
42' HAALAND... MISSES??!!
Well, well, well, he is human after all. Sancho frees Haaland and the Norwegian is through on goal, the ball on his stronger side, but he can only flash wide of the far post. You'd usually put your house on him finishing that.
39' VERY GOOD FROM REUS
The Dortmund captain comes alive on the left and gets beyond his marker into the Zenit box before unleashing a left-footed strike that Kerzhakov kicks behind. Much better intent from BVB.
35' DRIUSSI HEADS OVER
Out of nowhere, Zenit nearly nick the lead as Bürki races off his line to try and clear a cross from the left but is beaten to the ball by Driussi, whose header goes narrowly over.
32' AKANJI BOSSING DZYUBA
We said pre-game that Dortmund would need to be up for a fight and it's safe to say Akanji is. The Dortmund centre-back hasn't given Dzyuba a sniff and has so far had the beating of the Zenit captain every time, whether it be in the air or on the deck. Very impressive.
27' ONE FOR THE CAMERAS
Reus curls a free-kick at goal from a fair distance that looks to be drifting just wide but Zenit 'keeper Kerzhakov tips it round the post for good measure. Again, though, the subsequent corner is quickly cleared.
23' SHOT SHY
We're halfway through the first half now but we've only had two shots - one at each end. Dortmund have had all the ball but aren't able to carve open any chances. For now, they need to remain patient against a stubborn Zenit side playing with every man behind the ball.
19' DORTMUND IN CONTROL
The home side are well on top now and enjoying the bulk of possession. Some intricate passing nearly gets them beyond Zenit, but the final ball is still slightly lacking.
15' REYNA GOES CLOSE
The young American is inches away from opening the scoring as he fires a half volley on his left foot from just outside the area narrowly past the post. A lovely, clean hit that so nearly put Dortmund in front.
11' FIRST ZENIT THREAT
Dzyuba certainly isn't going to test you running in behind, but his presence and hold up play does get Zenit up the pitch quickly. He has runners up with him as Dortmund are caught on the counter, but the final ball is lacking and the visitors run into a dead end.
8' HAALAND NEARLY IN
Dortmund win the ball back deep in the Zenit half and Reyna just has to slide in Haaland but his through ball is slightly under-hit to allow the Russian side to recover. Dortmund threatening and they win a corner moments later but it comes to nothing.
7' WELL DRILLED
Both teams look very organised at the back in the early exchanges and this one has so far suggested it could be a game won in midfield.
3' LIVELY DORTMUND
The visitors have barely had a touch in the opening salvos, with Dortmund looking full of purpose. Good early signs from the hosts.
Strap yourselves in as we are underway at the Signal Iduna Park...
IN THE TUNNEL
Almost go time...
10 MINUTES TO GO
We're nearly ready to go in Dortmund, but before we get underway it's worth noting that RB Leipzig are also in action against Manchester United tonight. For live updates of that one, head HERE. Don't worry, it won't be held against you if you jump ship...
It's worth noting that there are no fans in Dortmund's iconic stadium tonight. It feels particularly bizarre seeing a barren Yellow Wall, but such is life right now.
These two teams have only met twice before - across two-legs of the 2013/14 Champions League last 16. Dortmund won that tie 5-4 on aggregate, but actually lost the home second-leg 2-1. Hummels - who has been to Bayern and back since - and Piszczek - who is on the bench tonight - are the only Dortmund survivors from that match, while Witsel was in blue that night.
EYE ON THE OPPOSITION
Eagle eye Bundesliga fans will remember Zenit left-back Santos from his Hamburg days, while Dortmund will need to train their gaze on Driussi and Dzyuba, who were so impressive for the home nation at the 2018 Russia World Cup. It's a physical Zenit side, so Dortmund will need to be up for the fight tonight.
A FAMILIAR FACE
Witsel spent four-and-a-half years with Zenit, winning the 2014/15 Russian Premier League, as well as one Russian Cup and Super Cup. From his pre-game chat with Spox, it's clear there were highs and lows while he was in Saint Petersburg...
"In Russia it’s a lot colder and the people are more reserved. It was a different mentality that took some getting used to, but I had a great time with Zenit, especially the title win."
The Norwegian continues to amaze and his Revierderby goal at the weekend took him to 23 goals in 26 games for BVB. His Champions League record - across his time at RB Salzburg and Dortmund - also stands at 11 goals in nine appearances and he's been speaking to SportBILD in the build-up to this game, saying he wants more.
"I’m someone who is rarely satisfied. I always try to improve things even if they’re done well. I feel like I definitely have the potential to be able to continually develop my game over the next ten years."
ATTACKING DORTMUND LINEUP
It's safe to say this is a forward-thinking Dortmund side. Favre sticks with a back-four - as he did in the win over Schalke - and club captain Reus comes into the side alongside Sancho and Reyna in support of Haaland. Dahoud also keeps his place in central midfield, partnering former Zenit man Witsel.
Zenit: Kerzhakov - Karavaev, Lovren, Rakitskiy, Santos - Wendel, Barrios, Erokhin - Kuzyaev, Driussi - Dzyuba (c)
Subs: Vasyutin, Lunev, Krugovoi, Mostovoy, Zhirkov, Sutormin, Ozdoev, Musaev, Prokhin, Shamkin
Dortmund: Bürki - Meunier, Hummels, Akanji, Guerreiro - Dahoud, Witsel - Sancho, Reus (c), Reyna - Haaland
Subs: Hitz, Morey, Delaney, Hazard, Brandt, Reinier, Bellingham, Piszczek, Passlack, Raschi
Here we go, the Dortmund team is in, with Haaland, Sancho, Reus and Reyna all starting...
HOW THINGS STAND
Dortmund lost their opening game in the group thanks to a 3-1 defeat at Lazio, but they bounced back in perfect fashion with a 3-0 Revierderby victory over Schalke at the weekend. Zenit also tasted defeat in their opener, losing 2-1 to Club Brugge at home.
HELLO AND WELCOME TO DORTMUND vs. ZENIT!
A very good morning/afternoon/evening to wherever you are in the world and welcome to the live blog for Borussia Dortmund vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg in Group F of the Champions League. Teams will be dropping soon and we have a lot to get through ahead of kick-off so let's get to it...