Marco Reus’ early tap-in earned Borussia Dortmund victory but if Patrick Schick had been in form Bayer Leverkusen could have earned at least a point.
Youssoufa Moukoko’s cross was turned towards goal at the back post by Karim Adeyemi and though Lukas Hradecky contrived along with the post to just keep the ball from passing the line the Dortmund skipper was there to open the scoring.
Schick had a chance in the first half to equalise in the first half when he shot just wide of the top corner from the edge of box, then twice in the second half he was denied at point-blank range by Gregor Kobel.
In the 64th minute he met Moussa Diaby’s low inswinging cross at the six-yard box but his effort flew straight into the mid-riff of Kobel.
Five minutes later, Sardar Azmoun’s clever touch set Schick up for an equaliser but Kobel raced out to deny him with his legs.
There was drama in injury time as Leverkusen stopper Hradecky was red-carded for catching the ball just outside the area in front of Reus.
Goals will be a problem for Dortmund – Erling Haaland was always going to leave a gaping hole for Der BVB to fill but with the sad news of summer signing Sebastian Haller having testicular tumour it has become a much harder task. Marco Reus showed he retains predatory instincts with his goal but he is far from the 20-a-season man he was, when fit, in the first half of his career.
At 17, Youssoufa Moukoko is already a handful for defenders and good at creating chances for team-mates, but doesn’t seem ready to replicate his incredible goalscoring record at youth level with the first team. They will welcome the slender victory but their dreams of closing the gap on the Robert Lewandowski-less Bayern Munich seem forlorn.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Gregor Kobel (Dortmund) – The Swiss stopper took over from countryman Roman Burki between the sticks last season and despite some pourous defending in front of him, performed pretty well. At 24, an age when keepers start to approach their peak he looks set to take a bigger step this season. Schick can certainly be blamed for not putting away the chances he had, but Kobel’s positioning and instincts ensured the chances became that much more difficult for the Czech striker.
Dortmund: Kobel 8*; Meunier 7, Schlotterbeck 6, Hummels 6, Guerreiro 7; Bellingham 7, Dahoud 7; Malen 7, Reus 7, Adeyemi 7; Moukoko 6.
Subs: Hazard 6, Brandt 6, Can 6, Wolf 6.
Leverkusen: Hradecky 7; Frimpong 7, Tapsoba 6, Tah 6, Hincapie 6; Palacios 6, Andrich 6; Diaby 7, Bellarabi 6, Demirbay 6; Schick 5.
Subs: Aranguiz 6, Azmoun 6, Amiri 6, Hlozek 5, Bakker 5.
10′ GOAL FOR DORTMUND! Adeyemi’s shot at the back post from a fine cross from Moukoko was blocked on the line by the feet of Hradecky and on the line it looked like Reus touched the ball over the line.
21′ REUS SO CLOSE! The Dortmund skipper races into the left hand side of the area onto Guerreiro’s square ball but he skews his effort and is just in front of Moukoko at the far post.
64′ SCHICK SHOULD HAVE LEVELLED! He escaped the pair of centre backs to meet the low inswinging cross from Diaby at the six-yard box but his shot flies straight into Kobel’s breadbasket.
69′ ANOTHER GREAT CHANCE FOR SCHICK! He could have Leverkusen in front in the space of the last few minutes but after Hlozek’s fantastic touch to set him up, his effort was blocked by a fantastic block from the legs of Kobel who raced off his line.
90′ RED CARD FOR HRADECKY! The Leverkusen keeper caught the ball just outside the box under pressure from Reus and after a VAR check a free kick and a red card have been given.