Borussia Dortmund denied RB Leipzig top spot in the Bundesliga as Erling Haaland reignited his team’s title ambitions with two goals in a 3-1 win at the Red Bull Arena.
Bayern Munich’s dramatic collapse against Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday left them vulnerable at the summit, only for bitter rivals Dortmund to do them a favour.
After a cagey first half, Haaland stole the show, helping to create Jadon Sancho’s opener before heading home the England winger’s cross.
Haaland dispatched his 19th goal of the season across all competitions six minutes from time, though Alexander Sorloth beat Roman Burki at the second attempt to register a consolation for Leipzig, who remain two points behind Bayern after their nine-match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga came to a halt.
The most notable moment of a forgettable first-half came when Axel Witsel crumpled to the turf with a nasty-looking ankle injury and had to be replaced by Emre Can
Dortmund found fresh intent after the restart, with Sancho sliding in Marco Reus to draw Peter Gulacsi into a sharp save at his near post.
Can headed over from the resulting corner but Dortmund would not rue the miss for too long.
Haaland raided down the Leipzig left and Reus cleverly flicked his cross into Sancho’s path for an assured finish.
Fire and ice pic.twitter.com/GUSaW1O7Hx
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) January 9, 2021
Dortmund’s number nine took up a more familiar position in the 65th minute, collecting Sancho’s throughball and thumping a left-footed shot that Gulacsi tipped against the crossbar.
It was Leipzig’s turn to test out the furniture shortly afterwards as Dani Olmo drilled across Burki and against the base of the left post, yet Dortmund doubled their lead when Haaland danced through three challenges and was on hand to head in Sancho’s curling cross.
BVB’s third was similarly picturesque – Reus unlocking the Leipzig offside trap and Haaland coolly rounding Gulacsi to tap into an empty net.
Burki seemed to have done enough to deny Sorloth a consolation, but the Leipzig striker latched onto the rebound to slam in a maiden Bundesliga goal.
What does it mean? Dortmund offer a reminder of their title credentials
When a shambling 5-1 loss to Stuttgart last month signalled the end of Lucien Favre’s stint as head coach, Dortmund challenging for top honours this season seemed fanciful.
However, four wins out of five under interim boss Edin Terzic – and three consecutive clean sheets for a defence marshalled superbly here by Mats Hummels – means they are fourth, five points behind an unusually vulnerable Bayern.
Haaland boosts rocketing reputation yet again
It is becoming hard to find fresh superlatives for the 20-year-old, who turned in the complete centre-forward display. Haaland existed on the margins as he was restricted to four touches in the opening half-hour and the manner in which the youngster bent the game to his will thereafter spoke volumes of his mental strength.
Leipzig could not handle his running with the ball and Haaland’s four dribbles completed were the joint-most for Dortmund alongside Giovanni Reyna. The most impressive statistic of all is that his 12 Bundesliga goals this term have arrived in just 10 games.
Upamecano feeling down
The match-up between Haaland and Dayot Upamecano might be one we see repeated at the elite level frequently over the next decade.
The Leipzig centre-back was emphatically second-best this time around, failing to make a single tackle, losing seven of 10 duels and making a solitary clearance as he lost possession on 17 occasions. They will meet again.
Leipzig travel to Wolfsburg next weekend when Dortmund host bottom club Mainz.