Michy Batshuayi helped ensure Marco Reus’ return ended in triumph as he continued his fine start to life at Borussia Dortmund with the opening goal in a hard-fought 2-0 Bundesliga win over Hamburg.
Belgium international Batshuayi hit a debut double in the 3-2 victory against Cologne last week and he made it three goals in two appearances with a poacher’s finish less than four minutes into the second half.
After the €63.75million departure of the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal, the on-loan Chelsea striker’s form and Reus’ first appearance since last May having been sidelined through anterior cruciate ligament damage will help raise sprits at Signal Iduna Park.
Reus showed no signs of rust during the 71 minutes of his comeback, but – despite an attacking line-up also including Andre Schurrle, Christian Pulisic and Shinji Kagawa – Dortmund found the going tough against Bernd Hollerbach’s well-drilled side.
Batshuayi made the breakthrough with their first shot on target and he celebrated his first home goal for the club with a somersault celebration that echoed one of the departed Aubameyang’s favoured ways of marking a goal.
Pulisic missed a glorious chance to make the points safe but substitute Mario Gotze grabbed a second in injury time to extend Peter Stoger’s unbeaten record at the helm to seven Bundesliga matches and lift BVB to third with a 500th home victory in the division.
Reus donned the captain’s armband and made his presence felt in the opening minute when he slid a throughball behind the defence for Schurrle, only for the former Chelsea man to see his shot blocked after checking inside onto his right foot.
Hamburg sat deep and did not see much of the ball, but the pressing of Aaron Hunt forced Roman Burki to rush a clearance straight to Walace. However, the Brazilian was unable to hit the target from 40 yards with the goalkeeper out of position.
Dortmund found it difficult to create opportunities and it was the hardy visitors who registered the first – and only – shot on target in the opening period, Filip Kostic’s cross-goal effort comfortably held by Burki five minutes before the break.
The home fans did not have to wait much longer for something to celebrate. Batshuayi was in the right place at the right time to slide Pulisic’s cross-cum-shot in at the back post in the 49th minute.
Kagawa hobbled down the tunnel after being replaced by Mahmoud Dahoud in the 62nd minute and within a minute of his introduction the substitute miscued on the follow-up after Christian Mathenia kept out Schurrle.
A goal still looked likely when Dahoud’s wayward shot found Pulisic in space in the six-yard box, but the United States international somehow aimed high of the gaping goal.
Reus was given a warm ovation as he made way for Gotze with 19 minutes remaining and, after Dahoud narrowly missed the target, he made sure of the points in stoppage time by dinking over Mathenia following a brilliant counter-attacking run from Schurrle.
Key Opta stats:
– January loan signing Michy Batshuayi became the first Dortmund player since Adrian Ramos in August/September 2014 to score in his first two games for BVB in the German top flight.
– Mario Gotze scored on an assist by Andre Schurrle – the last time in all competitions that these two players combined in this way was the winning goal in the World Cup Final 2014 (1-0 aet against Argentina).
– Marco Reus made his first appearance in all competitions this season, remaining without a shot but creating the most chances of all players in the game (4).
– Manuel Akanji made his first appearance in Dortmund’s starting XI, winning 75% of his duels (12 of 16) and recording an excellent passing accuracy of 93% – he found a team-mate with all 18 passes he made into the opposite half.