“If you play like that and still win, that’s huge!” Sokratis Papastathopoulos told reporters after a tired Borussia Dortmund grinded out a 2-1 win against feisty Augsburg. “In recent years, we would have drawn or lost these kinds of games,” the centre-back added. It was the seventh match within 21 days for the Black and Yellows and, except for a few sparks of brilliance, the 90 minutes were a far cry from their usual dominance in the Bundesliga. Augsburg, meanwhile, showed why they had been unbeaten at home thus far this season, putting the guests in a lot of discomfort with robust play.
Sokratis makes a valid point. Dortmund picked up only five road wins in the last campaign, exactly because they couldn’t hold onto leads in matches where they could not dominate their opposition with calm possession play. It wasn’t pretty but the Westphalians travel home with all three points in the bag, maintaining their lead in the table through the international break while putting pressure on the rest of the league.
Also, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) proved to be helpful for the Black and Yellows, belatedly awarding a penalty kick after Lukasz Piszczek was pulled down in the box. BVB, however, couldn’t put the game to bed in the 79th minute.
After Andriy Yarmolenko’s cheeky back-heel found the back of the net in the fourth minute, it looked as though Dortmund were on easy street once again. That assumption, however, proved to be wrong as Peter Bosz’s side lost the plot after 60 minutes, not being able to retain the ball in midfield and thus making it an open contest.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Brought in Christian Pulisic, Mahmoud Dahoud, Julian Weigl, Shinji Kagawa and Marc Bartra in order to have some fresh legs after the 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid on Tuesday. Bringing in centre-back Omer Toprak for the last 10 minutes was the right call to deal with Augsburg’s forward lumps.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 8 — The Swiss goalkeeper had to work for his money on Saturday, keeping his team in the lead with some stunning reflexes in the second half.
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 6 — His athleticism was vital in a match where Piszczek was caught up in defence more than usual.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 7 — If things get gritty, Sokratis is always in the thick of it. The Greek defender bullied back, throwing himself into every tackle.
DF Marc Bartra, 6 — The Spaniard failed to mark Caiuby in the 11th minute, who nodded the ball in for Augsburg’s temporary equaliser. He should have had an assist for an audacious pass to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
DF Jeremy Toljan, 5 — Struggled a lot in the first half, giving the ball away needlessly far too often. He shored up in the second.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, 6 — In the first half, Dahoud looked calm and composed. In the second half, there was little left of that — which is why Bosz subbed him off before the hour mark.
MF Julian Weigl, 6 — A 76 percent pass completion rate is far off Weigl’s usual standard. The midfielder will need some more weeks before hitting full form.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 7 — His coach won’t be happy that he failed to close down Philipp Max, leaving the Augsburg left-back all the time in the world to find Caiuby’s head in the 11th minute for the equaliser. The Japanese, however, did make up for it with an exquisite chip that completely bamboozled Marwin Hitz.
FW Andriy Yarmolenko, 8 — Had the presence of mind to put the ball in the back of the net with a nifty back-heel as the ball scrambled in the box after a corner.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 4 — In his 200th match for the Black and Yellows, Aubameyang had a real stinker after missing Wednesday’s training due to illness. Having missed only five minutes of Dortmund’s season so far, his tiredness showed in Augsburg. All Hitz had to do to deny Aubameyang was to stand tall. Be it in the one-on-one situation where the forward fluffed his shot after two step-overs or the attempted Panenka that landed right in Hitz’s gloves.
FW Christian Pulisic, 6 — Augsburg coach Manuel Baum made sure one of his defenders kept Pulisic in check. The 19-year-old had some glimpses of brilliance in the second half after switching to the right side.
MF Gonzalo Castro, 6 — Came on for Dahoud. Didn’t help to wrestle back control in midfield but stepped on the ball a couple of times late in the match to take some seconds off the clock.
FW Maximilian Philipp, 5 — Replaced Yarmolenko in the 64th minute. Mostly involved in defensive plays after his substitution, though.
DF Omer Toprak, NR — BVB closed the game out with three centre-backs, limiting the hosts to half-chances in the final 15 minutes.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.