The top match of Round 20 saw Leverkusen and Dortmund battling for second in the table. After the champs got off to a flying start, it was end-to-end action, with Dortmund clawing out a 3-2 win.
Going into the game, the omens hardly favored Dortmund. Not only were Leverkusen unbeaten at home, the men in yellow began without captain Sebastian Kehl and starting goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
All the more reason, coach Jürgen Klopp’s men probably thought, to put this match to bed early. Dortmund ripped the hosts’ defensive midfield to shreds immediately after the opening whistle, with Marco Reus opening the scoring in the third minute. Robert Lewandowski put the young star through, and he suavely chipped keeper Bernd Leno.
Six minutes later, Leverkusen could only stop Lewandowski with a foul in the box. Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski sank the penalty to give the visitors a 2-0 lead that would hold until the break.
Whatever words were said in the Leverkusen dressing room, they worked. The hosts suddenly dominated play, and a pair of goals by Stefan Reinartz in minutes 58 and 62 knotted up the score.
But less than a minute later, an ill-advised back pass put Leno under pressure. He could only clear as far as the onrushing Lewandowski, who made it 3-2.
“The third goal was my fault, and it was really crap for my team,” said rueful Leverkusen defender Philipp Wollscheid, who made the back pass. “Everyone could see I made a mistake.”
In minute 69, Sebastian Boenisch again brought down Lewandowski in the area. Kuba’s penalty this time, though, was feeble, squandering the chance for the defending champs to put away the match.
"The second penalty was much too rushed," Kuba admitted after the match.
Leverkusen had a number of promising opportunities in the final twenty minutes, but Dortmund held on by the very edge of their fingertips to secure a razor-thin 3-2 win.
The result takes Dortmund into second place in the table ahead of Leverkusen. But they’re twelve points adrift of league leaders Bayern, and this porous defensive display showed why Dortmund won’t be retaining the "salad bowl" this season.
Controversial victory for the Club
In Sunday’s early match Mönchengladbach rolled into Nuremberg as the favorites with the chance to move up to fifth in the table. But it was Nuremberg doing the damage, much to the delight of new head coach Michael Wiesinger.
The Club grabbed the better start – albeit somewhat unfairly. Mike Frantz went down in the area after encountering a bit of air turbulence. The ref bought the dive, and Timmy Simons sunk the spot kick. Gladbach keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen would have been better advised to stay in the middle.
“That was a clear dive,” said an enraged Gladbach coach Lucien Favre after the match. “You have to watch out and be absolutely sure if you give a penalty like that. It’s unbelievable.”
The visitors had a trio of good chances in the first half but were thwarted by Club keeper Raphael Schäfer, who was playing with a broken nose. And in minute 30, the Foals were caught out on the break. Tomas Pekhart rifled home on the left-hand side to double Nuremberg’s lead.
Little spoke for a turnaround after the restart, but in minute 58, Patrick Herrmann handed Gladbach a lifeline. Luuk de Jong knocked down a long ball, for the youngster to blast home. The goal put Nuremberg on the back foot for ten minutes or so, but the Club held on to deny the Foals an equalizer.
Tem minutes form time, the Club could have sealed a win after a horrible pass by ter Stegen. But the young keeper came up with a terrific save to neutralize his mistake.
That, however, was to no avail, as Nuremberg ran out the clock to clinch the 2-1 win. The result ended a nine-game winning streak by the Foals, who stay in seventh place.
Nurembergclimb to fourteenth, eight points outside the danger zone. It was the first Bundesliga win for Michael Wiesinger, who took over the club after the winter break.