Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s 13-minute hat-trick provided a stunning exclamation point as Thomas Tuchel’s first home game as Borussia Dortmund coach ended in a crushing 5-0 UEFA Europa League win over Wolfsberger.
Nerves may have been jangling among the home support when the sides went in level at the break after Dortmund, protecting a 1-0 lead following the first leg of this third qualifying round tie, had missed a host of chances.
But they found the right combination almost immediately after the break at Signal Iduna Park – Marco Reus finishing off a tremendous sweeping move before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang neatly scored a second on the end of a fantastic Ilkay Gundogan assist.
Mkhitaryan then took centre stage in the game’s dying embers, thundering home three sensational goals to add heavy gloss to the scoreline and send the hosts into the play-off phase of the competition thanks to a 6-0 aggregate victory.
Despite the nervy first half, Dortmund grew in confidence, their old attacking swagger showing signs of resurfacing after 2014-15’s occasional horrors.
As was the case in the first leg, Dortmund quickly asserted their dominance over the Austrian side, but had little to show for their first-half pressure.
Aubameyang was let down by his touch when played through 17 minutes in, before Mats Hummels saw a cute lobbed effort deflected wide with Alexander Kofler stranded. The visiting goalkeeper was much sharper when denying Aubameyang at his feet after spilling Reus’ low drive.
Perhaps fuelled by frustrations at their own inability to score, Dortmund began to direct their ire at Romanian referee Marius Avram as he first booked Reus in questionable circumstances before denying the Germany attacker’s strong penalty shouts.
Tuchel was finally moved from his perch on the touchline as Shinji Kagawa bundled his way through and scored, only for the offside flag to be raised against Aubameyang, who was adjudged to have interfered with play as he blocked a covering defender.
Pressure was eased, though, as the breakthrough finally came in the third minute after half-time.
Another superb one-touch break released Mkhitaryan on the left and his first-time cross afforded Reus ample time to allow the ball to run onto his right foot before clipping across Kofler and in.
Aubameyang, guilty of several misses, eventually netted with a composed chip after Gundogan had split the Wolfsberger defence with an accurate throughball to give Dortmund breathing room.
With the shackles off, Mkhitaryan ended the game in style.
First, the Armenian lashed beyond Kofler left-footed from 30 yards before darting in from the left flank onto his right and drilling another unstoppable shot home.
With the Yellow Wall in fine voice, Mkhitaryan treated them to another blockbuster, a low drive that again beat Kofler all ends up.
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