Erling Haaland is spearheading Borussia Dortmund's push for UEFA Champions League qualification, and hit a brace to down Wolfsburg on Matchday 31. - © IMAGO / Revierfoto/DFL
Erling Haaland is spearheading Borussia Dortmund's push for UEFA Champions League qualification, and hit a brace to down Wolfsburg on Matchday 31. - © IMAGO / Revierfoto/DFL

Erling Haaland: MD31's Man of the Matchday and Borussia Dortmund's man for the big occasion

Nothing but a win would do for Borussia Dortmund away to fellow top-four hopefuls Wolfsburg on Matchday 31, and their main man stepped up when it mattered most: Erling Haaland hit a brace to keep BVB's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League alive.

The pressure was well and truly on for Dortmund before kick-off. Occupying fifth place, they were five points behind the third-placed Wolves, knowing that defeat would all but end their chances of catching them.

Not only that, it would deflate team spirit going into their tricky final three games: RB Leipzig at home, a visit to a Mainz side that stunned Bayern Munich, and a clash with top-six chasers Bayer Leverkusen on the final day of the season.

Watch: Highlights of Dortmund's win in Wolfsburg

Yet with Haaland on the teamsheet, they needn't have worried. The forward scored his 24th and 25th Bundesliga goals of the campaign, first by capitalising on a defensive mistake to bear down on goal and fire past Koen Casteels before sprinting from the halfway line to collect a long ball forward and land what proved to be the knockout blow in a 2-0 win. Haaland led the charge with Dortmund's backs against the wall following Jude Bellingham's red card midway through the second half, and in doing so, he smashed more records along the way.

The Norwegian has now scored 16 times away from home in 2020/21, beating the BVB best mark set by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from 2016/17 for the most in a single campaign.

Not only that, he is the first and only 20-year-old ever to register 38 Bundesliga goals, and the fact he has done so in just 41 outings is all the more remarkable.

All of which somewhat overshadows an equally impressive feat: at the Volkswagen Arena, Haaland clocked the second-fastest speed of any Bundesliga player this season at 22.3mph (35.99 km/h), bettered only by his own top speed of 22.39 mph (36.04 km/h) against VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 28.

"We know that Erling's a top-class goalscorer," said BVB interim head coach Edin Terzic. "If he has a lot of chances then the likelihood of him scoring one is very high. Today he didn't have many opportunities but he was extremely effective for us. That's one of the reasons why we won today."

And a vital victory it was too. Not only did Dortmund earn the upper hand in the proverbial six-pointer against a direct rival, results elsewhere went their way too. Eintracht Frankfurt's 3-1 loss in Leverkusen means BVB are now just a point off fourth spot, while Bayern's shock defeat in Mainz was no doubt a welcome boost as well.

"Erling made the difference for us today," said Sebastian Kehl, Dortmund's former captain turned head of the professional football department. "After we went 1-0 up it was his kind of game. He had a lot of space and he exploited it ruthlessly."

Watch: Terzic on Dortmund's top-four push

They will need more of the same in the coming weeks as the team look to build on their run of four consecutive victories, in which they have scored 11 and conceded just three.

"Now we've only got three league games left," said captain Marco Reus at the final whistle. "We want to qualify for the Champions League at all costs."

With Haaland on board and in this kind of form, it would be hard not to back them.