Dortmund - There was to be no repeat of last season's epic 4-4 encounter between Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart at the Signal Iduna Park, but the two sides nevertheless delivered a gripping spectacle, which ultimately ended goalless.
The blank scoreline was not for want of trying with both sides committed to attacking and not shying away from thundering tackles.
Following their dismal start to the season, Stuttgart have improved of late and had taken ten points from the four games prior to their visit to Dortmund. The reasons for their upturn were clear, as right from the off they were snapping at their hosts' heels and not allowing them time to settle into their rhythm. The home side did have the first sight of goal - a rasping long-range effort from Ilkay Gündogan - but otherwise Stuttgart were more than a match for the Yellow-Blacks.
So much so that they created the game's first clear-cut chance. Following good work down the right from Vedad Ibisevic and Christian Genter, the ball came to Martin Harnik at the far post. However, the normally assured Austrian was unable to keep his shot down and blasted over from close range. The shock of being undone so easily seemed to spark the hosts into life and they soon went close themselves, but Marcel Schmelzer fired wide with his weaker right foot when well placed to score.
That was the last of the goalmouth action for a while as the match increasingly became a midfield battle with Sebastian Kehl leaving the field after a clash. Neither side was holding back in the challenges and the game's high tempo meant it remained an entertaining spectacle. With few chances coming from open play, it was perhaps inevitable that set-pieces would provide the best opportunity to break the deadlock. From Marco Reus' corner, Mats Hummels was twice denied on the line, first by a superb reflex save by Sven Ulreich, who tipped the ball on to the bar, before Arthur Boka blocked the German international's follow-up attempt.
The visitors came within a whisker of taking the lead shortly before half time, when the unsighted Roman Weidenfeller managed to block Ibrahima Traore's cross. The ball rebounded onto the onrushing Ibisevic's knee and bounced just wide, leaving the game goalless at the break. The home side came out galvanised after the interval, and very nearly opened the scoring following good interplay between Mario Götze and Reus, which left the latter through on goal. Yet the fleet-footed winger was only able to find the side netting with his shot from an acute angle.
Julian Scheiber , who scored twice for Stuttgart in the eight-goal thriller back in March, wasted Dortmund's next good chance with only Ulreich to beat. Reus' clever pass found the forward ten yards out, but his shot was swiftly smothered by the Stuttgart keeper. At the other end, the visitors were gifted an opportunity to snatch all three points when a mistake from Hummels allowed Ibisevic in, but he could not find a gap past the looming figure of Weidenfeller.
In the closing minutes, Dortmund went all-out attack and Schieber almost grabbed the winner with an excellent shot on the turn that came off the bar. Nonetheless, Stuttgart looked dangerous on the counter-attack, especially with Ibisevic's pace and movement causing so much trouble. Yet in the end, neither side could find the goal they so desperately sought, leaving both disappointed with the solitary point gained.
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