Dortmund seal Champions League berth with Mainz win

Dortmund - Borussia Dortmund secured their place in the group stages of next season’s UEFA Champions League courtesy of an entertaining 4-2 victory over 1. FSV Mainz 05 at Signal Iduna Park.

Early lead for BVB

Milos Jojic and Robert Lewandowski goals either side of Shinji Okazaki’s equaliser gave Dortmund a slender advantage at the break, before the Japanese international capitalised on an error by Nuri Sahin to make it 2-2 ten minutes into the second half. Dortmund retook the lead when Lukasz Piszczek headed home Marco Reus’ free-kick, and the 24-year-old midfielder sealed the points from the penalty spot after Niko Bungert had been dismissed for blocking a Lewandowski shot with his arm.

Jürgen Klopp recalled Sahin and Oliver Kirch into his midfield, with Kevin Großkreutz dropping to the bench and veteran Sebastian Kehl, who started Tuesday’s DFB Cup semi-final victory over VfL Wolfsburg, left out of the matchday squad. The hosts nearly took the lead after just two minutes when Reus curled a free-kick against the foot of the post. BVB did not have to wait long to make the breakthrough, though, as Jojic’s sixth-minute shot deflected off Kirch and past the stranded Mainz keeper Loris Karius.

The 20-year-old stopper then did well to keep out Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal-bound effort, before Mainz restored parity with a deflected effort of their own. Okazaki let fly from 20 yards, with the ball ricocheting off Mats Hummels and cruelly wrong-footing Mitchell Langerak in the Dortmund goal. Klopp’s charges soon regained control, however, and after Sahin had played an inch-perfect ball through for Mkhitaryan, the Armenian was left with the simple task of squaring for Lewandowski, who rounded Karius to slot in his 18th league goal of the season.

Sahin at fault

The free-flowing action showed no sign of abating as the half progressed. Maxim Choupo-Moting headed just wide from Okazaki’s flick on, before Yunus Malli, one of Mainz’s standout performers in Matchday 30’s comprehensive win over SV Werder Bremen, rifled a long-range shot just over Langerak’s crossbar. Reus then sent a volley just wide of Karius' right-hand post and Sokratis also went close with a header seven minutes before the interval.

Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel threw on Benedikt Saller and Shawn Parker at the start of the second period, but it was Dortmund who almost grabbed another goal three minutes in. Reus played a clever one-two with Lewandowski on the edge of the box, but Karius was out quickly to deny the Germany international with an excellent stop. BVB had looked comfortable, but Okazaki soon pounced on Sahin’s misplaced back-pass to equalise for the second time in the match.

Piszczek strikes

Undeterred, Dortmund came roaring back to retake the lead within minutes of Okazaki’s second. Reus’ inswinging free-kick was met by right-back Piszczek, who expertly flicked a header beyond Karius and into the far corner for his second league goal of the season. The Schwarz-Gelben thought they had grabbed a fourth soon afterwards, but Okazaki somehow managed to clear Lewandowski’s header off the line.

Karius pulled off another fine stop at the feet of Lewandowski, but Mainz’s hopes of getting back into the match were dashed when Bungert saw a straight red after blocking the Polish international’s goal-bound effort inside the area with his arm. Up stepped Reus to fire the resulting spot-kick past Karius and clinch BVB’s place in the 2014/15 Champions League, with Mainz remaining in seventh, four points clear of FC Augsburg.

Line-ups and statistics

Matthew Howarth