Borussia Dortmund overcame Newcastle 1-0 at St. James’ Park to propel themselves into second place in Group F. From the first whistle, Die Schwarzgelben looked to impose themselves on Eddie Howe’s side and silence the intimidating home support. An end-to-end first half saw both goalkeepers called into action, with Nick Pope and Gregor Kobel seemingly keeping the scoreline level going into the break. However, Dortmund would have other ideas, as Nico Schlotterbeck found Felix Nmecha unmarked inside the box to offer the visitors a deserved half-time lead.
After the interval, Newcastle would take more of a foothold in the game. However, after Callum Wilson’s effort from close range was saved by Kobel early in the second half, it would take until the 87th minute for the hosts to threaten again. Despite hitting the bar twice in the remaining ten minutes, Dortmund found a way to hold on to take all three points while simultaneously leapfrogging the Magpies in the group. With three games left to go, anything is possible, but Dortmund have given themselves every chance to find a route out of the group.
Qualification is back on the cards
After a characterless 2-0 defeat in the French capital on matchday one of the Champions League group stages, Dortmund failed to respond positively at home to AC Milan. Therefore, having to travel to Newcastle knowing three points were needed to revitalise their qualification dreams was always going to be difficult.
Nevertheless, while they did have to ride the storm at times, Edin Terzić’s side fought hard for a vital three points to keep their qualification dreams alive. A remarkable first half saw Dortmund quadruple Newcastle’s total attempts on goal while taking a 1-0 lead into the break. However, the second half would be a different story, and Die Schwarzgelben would have to rely on their grit and determination to survive the Newcastle onslaught.
With the English side set to visit the Westfalenstadion on matchday four, Dortmund will feel as though another victory would put qualification in the palm of their hands. If they can take inspiration from tonight’s performance into their remaining fixtures, then Dortmund could be a handle for many sides in the knockout stages.
Borussia Dortmund excite
So far in the Bundesliga, it has been relatively plain sailing for Borussia Dortmund, having not had to play any of the sides that occupy the remaining four spots in the top five. However, while their results have placed them into title contention, their performances have yet to catch the imagination of those watching.
Dull, unimaginative, and lacklustre have all been adjectives to describe Edin Terzić’s side on the domestic stage thus far. Nevertheless, despite Dortmund displaying a lack of quality against PSG and AC Milan in their opening two group-stage ties, they were able to steal the show at St. James’ Park.
An exciting opening 20 minutes saw Die Schwarzgelben register three shots on target from six attempts, accumulating to a 1.26xg. An end-to-end first seemed to benefit BvB, and the Black and Yellows took advantage of their dominance when Nico Schlotterbeck found Felix Nmecha unmarked in the box to score the game’s crucial goal. However, an uncharacteristically exhilarating Dortmund performance means that more of the same will be expected in the future.
Felix Nmecha finds his feet
After arriving in the summer for a staggering €30m from Wolfsburg, there was a lot of expectation placed upon the shoulders of Felix Nmecha. Having to fill the void left by Jude Bellingham was always bound to be an impossible task; however, Nmecha is beginning to stamp his authority on this Dortmund side.
Stepping up to the plate on Friday night with an exquisite pass against Werder Bremen to assist Julian Brandt for Dortmund’s winning goal, the 23-year-old has begun to show what he can offer. However, performing in the Bundesliga is one thing; transferring it into the Champions League is another.
Nevertheless, Nmecha would silence any critics before the interval. Just before halftime, the former Wolfsburg midfielder channelled his inner Bellingham to time his late run into the box to perfection, allowing him to sweep BvB ahead. It was a goal that gave Dortmund an important three points, while his overall game signalled that of a player ready to establish himself as a key cog in Edin Terzić’s side.
GGFN | Will Shopland