When the final whistle blew on Borussia Dortmund's victory in Augsburg on Saturday afternoon, there were no wild celebrations from the visitors - as there have been following their other Bundesliga victories this season. Instead, the overriding feeling was of relief.
"We're all happy to have taken all three points," said Gonzalo Castro after Dortmund's sixth league win in 2017/18. Head coach Peter Bosz was also delighted with the result, but was far from satisfied with his team's performance: "That was the worst game we've played since I arrived here. We had a lot of space in the first half but we didn't play well. In the second half we didn't play football at all."
Watch: Dortmund defender Marc Bartra reflects on the win in Augsburg
Such criticism did not appear to be on the cards during the first few minutes of the game, when it looked like Dortmund would carry on where they left off in the 6-1 thrashing of Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 6. Andrey Yarmolenko scored a memorable maiden Bundesliga goal with a cheeky back-heel in the fourth minute, and although they were pegged back by Caiuby's equaliser in the 11th minute, Shinji Kagawa's sumptuous chip shortly afterwards restored BVB's lead.
At half-time, the visitors' appeared to be in control and seemed to be cruising towards their next win. They had enjoyed 73 per cent of possession and had ten shots on goal to Augsburg's three. However, Augsburg - who recently went on a five-game unbeaten run - fought their way back after the interval and had a number of openings to grab an equaliser.
At the other end of the pitch, Dortmund could have killed the game off only to see top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang miss a penalty. "Auba's an important player for us and has already scored eight goals, he always helps us," said Bosz. "Even he has a couple of games like this per season. Today was his first."
Hard 3 points😁When your Game is unsuccessful you keep your Head up and tomorrow it's another day. work hard and Never loose your faith A⚡️ pic.twitter.com/DR7x0ZEkMv— Aubameyang P-E (@Aubameyang7) 30 September 2017
Despite Dortmund's dissatisfaction with their second-half display, there was a silver lining: BVB's fighting spirit and will to win saw them over the line. "The team clawed their way to all three points and that was good," said sporting director Michael Zorc. Meanwhile, centre-back Sokratis said the win marked the turning of a corner: "In the last two or three years we'd have lost or drawn games like that."
This new quality helped Dortmund stay top of the Bundesliga table for the seventh consecutive Matchday, and they will remain there until mid October due to the international break, ahead of Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich. "We're happy to be top and we'll enjoy that for two weeks now," said Castro. "But we can't rest on our laurels because we know Bayern are always capable of coming back."
On current evidence, though, the defending Bundesliga champions will have a fierce fight on their hands if they are to retain their title.
Maximilian Lotz reporting from Augsburg