A record of 80 Bundesliga goals in 124 matches going into Matchday 30 told its own story: that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has matured into a veritable goal-machine for Borussia Dortmund.
Away at Borussia Mönchengladbach, however, the 27-year-old showcased another side to his immense talent: turning a decisive match in his team’s favour after coming off the bench.
Coach Thomas Tuchel raised more than a few eyebrows with his team selection, opting to start Marco Reus, only recently back from a six-week lay-off, and leaving his top scorer Aubameyang on the bench. At the end of BVB’s thrilling 3-2 victory, Tuchel looked a genius, all of his big selection calls coming off.
The coach made a hefty five changes to the side that lost at AS Monaco in midweek, bringing in Ousmane Dembele, Gonzalo Castro and Marcel Schmelzer, among others, but it was his use of Aubameyang that should give him the most satisfaction.
Reus, ably supported by Dembele and USMNT international Christian Pulisic, opened the scoring for the visitors, before being withdrawn just before the hour-mark. His replacement Aubameyang took just two minutes to impact upon the game, sprinting clear to round the ‘keeper and finish with aplomb from an unkind angle. It was quite the impact, and quite the masterstroke from Tuchel, who had utilised his resources perfectly.
After scoring 13 goals in his first season in the Bundesliga, Aubameyang has since netted 16, 25 and is already on 27 this term, with four matches still to play. “The first chance he gets, he scores. You can just see he’s a world-class striker,” said Castro post-match. “It’s amazing that we can just depend on him to come off the bench and score,” added Matthias Ginter.
Dortmund’s late victory saw them move into third in the table and an automatic qualification spot for next season’s UEFA Champions League, but it also sets them up perfectly for their next game: away at Bayern in the semi-finals of the DFB Cup.
Robert Lewandowski rather left Aubameyang in the shade in Der Klassiker recently, when Bayern ran out 4-1 winners with the Pole grabbing a brace.
However, Aubameyang is now ahead of his rival at the top of the scoring charts by one goal, and having stolen a march in the race for the Torjägerkanone, he will hope to continue hogging the limelight from Lewandowski. And at least in this game, he can bank on starting.
Tobias Gonscherowski/Bernard Reeves