Borussia Dortmund scored three late goals to capitalise on birthday boy Sebastian Rudy’s dismissal and see off Bundesliga strugglers Hoffenheim 3-1 at Signal Iduna Park on Sunday.
Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann was seeking to maintain his promising start at the helm and saw Rudy open the scoring against an out-of-sorts Dortmund 25 minutes in.
Nagelsmann’s opposite number and former mentor with Augsburg’s reserves Thomas Tuchel was without key centre-backs Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mats Hummels as Dortmund struggled for momentum after their Europa League progression against Porto in midweek.
But second-placed Dortmund were handed a route back into the match when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was cynically brought down by Rudy just before the hour, earning him a straight red card.
And as Dortmund gradually applied pressure, Henrikh Mkhitaryan calmly slotted home the equaliser with 80 minutes on the clock before Adrian Ramos climbed highest to nod in the second following Lukasz Piszczek’s lofted cross.
Aubameyang continued his fine campaign with a tap-in during stoppage time to leave Hoffenheim rooted in the bottom two after relegation rivals Werder Bremen and Hannover picked up points on Saturday.
Dortmund, meanwhile, return to within eight points of leaders Bayern Munich.
Missing their first-choice defensive pairing of Sokratis and Hummels, Dortmund struggled to get going as a sloppy touch from Marco Reus – also an injury doubt in the build-up – cut short their first foray forward.
Reus and Shinji Kagawa combined for Dortmund’s first moment of real quality 21 minutes in – the latter’s cross cut out by Fabian Schar – before Hoffenheim stunned the hosts just past the midway point of the half.
The visitors calmly played the ball out of defence and, when Kevin Volland saw his effort palmed away by Roman Burki on the break, Rudy followed up to open the scoring on his 26th birthday.
Burki will have been disappointed at failing to deal with Volland’s initial effort, but when the striker cut inside Julian Weigl and shot at goal again before half-time, the Dortmund goalkeeper redeemed himself with a smart stop.
Tuchel introduced Ilkay Gundogan for Kagawa at the break and the midfielder almost made an immediate impact when he jinked past a clutch of defenders and rattled Oliver Baumann’s right-hand post.
And Dortmund’s search for an equaliser was aided when Rudy received his marching orders for bringing down Aubameyang when Nuri Sahin and Mkhitaryan were surging forward either side on the break.
With Dortmund already starting to ask questions, the hosts made the most of Rudy’s absence to impose their quality as Mkhitaryan collected Gundogan’s pass and rolled the ball past Baumann 10 minutes from time.
The turnaround was complete when Ramos, nine minutes after his introduction, headed in his first goal since mid-December before Aubameyang’s 22nd Bundesliga goal of the season rounded off the scoring as Dortmund’s quality eventually shone through.
Key Opta Stats:
– Borussia Dortmund extended their home winning streak to seven matches.
– Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in all of his 10 home matches this season.
– Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a hand in 38 goals (19 goals, 19 assists) in 37 matches in all competitions this season.
– Sebastian Rudy scored the opening goal as he did in the first meeting with Borussia Dortmund this season.
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