Hanover - Borussia Dortmund fulfilled their part of the bargain by beating Hannover 96 3-0 to ensure that FC Bayern München must wait until next week to be confirmed champions.
Die Schwarz-Gelben needed to drop points at the HDI Arena - as did FC Schalke 04 at home to Eintracht Braunschweig - for Bayern’s 2-0 win at 1. FSV Mainz 05 to seal the Bavarian’s 23rd Bundesliga crown and 24th national title, but goals either side of the interval from Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski gave them a comfortable win against a Reds side without a discernible attacking threat.
The two sides emerged for the first half with wholesale changes from their previous outings. Dortmund’s preparation had been beset by yet another injury, this time to Marcel Schmelzer, meaning a start for Erik Durm at left-back with Oliver Kirch partnering Nuri Sahin in midfield, while Hannover coach Tayfun Korkut went for the interesting formation of a nominal 4-4-2 but with wingers Szabolcs Huszti and former BVB prospect Leo Bittencourt leading the attack.
It was a sensible ploy from Korkut, whose team performed with organisation and efficiency in the opening quarter of the game. Bittencourt, ever a willing runner, dragged a shot wide from a Lars Stindl cross, before Andre Hoffmann thumped a shot against the post from Huszti’s deep free-kick. Dortmund were not without their opportunities, however, with Kevin Großkreutz missing out on his first goal of the season by wasting three good chances.
Hummels and Lewandowski show
Neither team had really looked like threatening from open play as the half wore on, and so it was fitting that the deadlock was broken after a set-piece. The home side reacted slowly to a second phase of a corner and when Durm’s cross came in, Hummels was on hand to poke home from Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ knock-down, the seventh goal in BVB’s last nine to have come from a set-piece.
Then, within minutes of the restart, Dortmund had the points all but in the bag thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from Lewandowski. Picking up Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s pass on the halfway line, he carried the ball into the box, beat five defenders and then finished with aplomb past a helpless Ron-Robert Zieler for his 16th goal of the season.
Reus settles it
Hannover reacted to the setback by introducing an out-and-out striker in Didier Ya Konan for Salif Sane, as well as Jan Schlaudraff, on the score sheet against Hertha Berlin last week. Weidenfeller was rarely troubled, however, as only a handful of speculative efforts from Stindl threatened his goal. Substitute Reus then made amends for a glaring miss with a well-taken goal after rounding Zieler, to make it the perfect away day for 2012 double-winners.
Dortmund now remain 23 points behind Bayern with eight games left to play and host derby rivals Schalke on Tuesday. However, that result could be rendered meaningless in terms of the title race, as Bayern will be confirmed champions if they can win their next game, away to Hertha.
Line-ups and statistics
After being out for the last three games, scored a goal against Hannover, watch the video courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: