Borussia Dortmund held on with 10 men to beat Hoffenheim 3-1 in the Bundesliga on Friday but it was another unconvincing win ahead of a potentially crucial Champions League game against AC Milan.
The win put Dortmund top of the table — though only until other teams play Saturday — but the game continued a pattern of Dortmund edging wins in tight games after giving its opponents plenty of chances.
Some Dortmund players were clearly frustrated as Ramy Bensebaini was sent off for a second booking after kicking the ball away at a routine throw-in in the 71st minute with the score 2-1. Marco Reus had scored Dortmund’s second goal but was later booked for throwing a water bottle onto the field from the bench.
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Dortmund coach Edin Terzic acknowledged Thursday that his team was struggling to find its “magic” and key figures at Dortmund have spoken of needing to get over losing the Bundesliga title to Bayern Munich in the final minutes of last season.
Niclas Füllkrug opened the scoring in the 18th minute with his first goal for Dortmund since signing from Werder Bremen last month. The striker applied the finish after Hoffenheim’s American defender John Brooks failed to control a simple throw-in and gave the ball away to Julian Brandt, who played in Füllkrug.
Five minutes later, Dortmund defender Mats Hummels gave away a penalty for a lunging challenge on Anton Stach and Andrej Kramarić converted the spot kick.
Dortmund restored its lead deep into first-half stoppage time when Reus pounced to score after Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann deflected Donyell Malen’s cross into his path. Hoffenheim had chances to level the score but Dortmund’s Julian Ryerson scored a third deep into stoppage time after sprinting from inside his own half on the counterattack.
Dortmund hosts Milan on Wednesday in a game which could have an outsized effect on who qualifies from a competitive group. Dortmund lost its opening game 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain and Milan is coming off a 0-0 draw with Newcastle.
The loss ended a four-game win streak for sixth-place Hoffenheim and its American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo.
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