Dortmund beats Mainz 1-0 to cut Bayern's lead to 4 points

American forward Gio Reyna, who came on in the 69th minute as a substitute, set up the winner by floating a free kick to the far post for Witsel to score in the 87th.

Axel Witsel

Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel celebrates scoring the winner.   -  Reuters

Axel Witsel scored late to give Borussia Dortmund a bad-tempered 1-0 win at Mainz on Wednesday in their postponed Bundesliga game to cut the gap to leader Bayern Munich to four points.

American forward Gio Reyna, who came on in the 69th minute as a substitute, set up the winner by floating a free kick to the far post for Witsel to score in the 87th.

But the game itself had few highlights as it was punctuated by many fouls, niggles and disagreements. Dortmund midfielder Marius Wolf and Mainz counterpart Stefan Bell were booked before the break after a shoving match broke out at the culmination of increasingly frayed tempers.

There was another flare-up at the end when Jude Bellingham was fouled by Anderson Lucoqui, who was booked. Witsel was also booked in injury time, for a tactical foul, before Reyna drew a great save from Robin Zentner with another free kick.

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The teams were originally down to play on March 6 but the game was called off due to a coronavirus outbreak at Mainz. Bo Svensson’s team also had its next game at Augsburg called off with at least 20 members of the squad and coaching staff infected with COVID-19. The Augsburg game was postponed to April 26.

The Mainz team showed no ill effects from the enforced break as it frustrated Dortmund’s attack and might have scored itself with Jonathan Burkardt blocked by Emre Can in the best chance of the first-half.

Dortmund coach Marco Rose brought Erling Haaland on for Wolf to energize his lackluster attack in the 57th, then Reyna and Julian Brandt.

Eight rounds remain.

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