GERMANY: BUNDESLIGA: Donyell dagger delivers Dortmund victory
Donyell Malen’s late winner handed Borussia Dortmund all three points in their Bundesliga opener against FC Cologne, with the Billy Goats unfortunate to go away with nothing in a game which extended the Die Schwarzgelben’s run of opening day wins to nine.
Having had the summer to reflect on their heartbreak on the final day of the last Bundesliga season, Dortmund knew that a strong start to the new campaign could be vital in determining their eligibility to finally steal Bayern Munich’s long-held crown. A good place to start would be by replicating March’s 6-1 win here against today’s opponents, but they found it difficult to make a breakthrough against the away side’s five-man defence. Instead it was Cologne who produced the first big chance. A searing counter attack ripped the Dortmund midfield apart, allowing Davie Selke a free run at the back line, but his resulting effort was deflected onto the bar by a sliding Niklas Süle.
Despite their frustrations, chances were easier to come by for the home side as the half went on, and Cologne goalkeeper Marvin Schwäbe had to be on his toes as he batted away Julian Brandt’s effort after the Dortmund midfielder had cleverly turned his man. Mats Hummels couldn’t quite get the connection required to head in Marco Reus’ flick-on soon after, and that set the tone for the remainder of the half, with neither side threatening to continue what had so far been a high-scoring Bundesliga opening round.
Cologne started the second half the marginally better of the two sides, while Dortmund were severely lacking in the kind of inspiration displayed by their title rivals so far this matchday. Rasmus Carstensen found considerable space on the right-hand side and slid the ball towards the vicinity of Sargis Adamyan in the box, but Gregor Kobel got a hand in the way to keep it goalless. A raft of attacking changes gave both sets of fans hope, but it was the visitors who sprung to life. Dejan Ljubičić looped his shot over, while Kobel brilliantly stopped Adamyan again from close range.
For all of Cologne’s dominance in the second half, there was to be a cruel twist of fate with just minutes to go. Felix Nmecha rose highest from a Dortmund corner, and Malen found himself unmarked at the far post, slipping as he looped his shot high into the net. The final whistle confirmed the home side as fortunate winners, and Edin Terzić will be relieved that they showed the resilience to come away with all three points despite being second best for much of the game.