Donyell Malen scores his first goal for Borussia Dortmund as they secure a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sporting CP.

Borussia Dortmund secure their second successive win in the UEFA Champions League group stage, edging out Sporting CP 1-0 on Tuesday. The victory helps them remain second in the Group C table with Ajax leading due to their superior goal difference.

It was not the most polished attacking performance Dortmund are usually known for. Starting without Erling Haaland for the second time in a row, they actually found it quite difficult to create goalscoring opportunities against a well-drilled Sporting team. It resulted in a rather frustrating game for the hosts.

Indeed, Dortmund often found themselves getting caught by Sporting’s offside traps. But they did eventually get into the game, starting to find more spaces in the final third, especially after the half-hour mark. Although clear cut opportunities were still few and far between, it was Donyell Malen who finally managed to find the back of the net in the 37th minute.

It was the only goal of the match asΒ Die Schwarzgelben held on strongly in the second half with a gutsy second-half defensive play, eventually securing the three points as well as their first clean sheetΒ since the DFB Pokal first-round encounter.

Gregor Kobel: 6.5/10

It was a rather quiet evening for Gregor Kobel in goal, which reflects Dortmund’s excellent defensive performance. With Sporting being restricted to just one shot on target, the goalkeeper will be extremely happy with his teammates for handing him the first clean in the UEFA Champions League. He will be looking forward to many more in the coming weeks.

Thomas Meunier: 8/10

Thomas Meunier continued his excellent run of form with yet another impressive outing on the right hand side. He started the game on a rough note but settled in nicely, looking quite comfortable in possession while threatening the Sporting side with his darting crosses from the wider areas. He linked up well in the final third, too, as well as offering the defensive support for the backline.

Manuel Akanji: 8/10

Manuel Akanji’s passing looked a bit off during the initial stages of the game. But it soon improved as Dortmund started to dominate more and more possession. Defensively, it was a solid display from the former FC Basel centre-back, whose sheer strength and game-reading ability made life difficult for Paulinho and Co.

Mats Hummels: 7.5/10

Mats Hummels offered a couple of careless passes that could have ended badly for his team. He also looked uncomfortable dealing in one-on-one situations. But other than that, his experience, passing and ability to read the game was a massive asset for the hosts this evening.

Raphael Guerreiro: 7/10

It was not the most appealing game for Raphael Guerreiro as Borussia Dortmund had to settle themselves on a defensive stance on multiple occasions. It restricted his offensive movements, but the left-back still did link up with the attackers whenever he got the chance, before making way for Nico Schulz late in the game.

Axel Witsel: 8.5/10

Axel Witsel was arguably the best performer for Borussia Dortmund in this crucial Champions League encounter. After facing criticism on the weekend for his performances, the Belgian produced a confident display in the middle of the park. He was secure in possession, barely conceding the ball while also having an eye for the forward passes.

It appears the former Zenit St. Petersburg star has listened to his critics, leading to him shining brightly even against the two marauding Sporting midfielders.

Mahmoud Dahoud: N/A

Mahmoud Dahoud’s night was cut short after he sustained an injury within the second minute of the game. He was replaced by Julian Brandt.

Jude Bellingham: 8/10

Jude Bellingham operated in the wide midfield role once again, making himself useful in half-spaces during possession. Off the ball, he was aggressive as usual, playing a vital role in Dortmund’s counter-press, especially after the half-hour mark. Not to mention, the Englishman registered the assist for Malen’s winner.

Marco Reus: 7.5/10

Marco Reus’ return to the starting eleven was a massive boon for Dortmund this evening. The German was able to slip into the pockets of space in between the lines, making himself a vital cog in his team’s approach play. He linked up well with his teammates but often found himself caught by Sporting’s offside traps.

Thorgan Hazard: 7/10

Thorgan Hazard didn’t have the best of games against Sporting. But his tactical astuteness was quite an asset for Dortmund as the attacker made life difficult for the opposition by shifting into various roles during the course of the game. It made the job difficult for the visitors to mark him out of the proceedings.

Donyell Malen: 7/10

Donyell Malen had a frustrating game, often getting caught offside and struggling to impose himself in the final third. He evidently looked tensed, having previously failed to find the back of the net since joining from PSV Eindhoven.

The Dutchman finally got the last laugh in the 37th minute when his brilliant finish saw him score the winner. It was not an excellent performance by any means, but one that will surely lift up his confidence in the coming matches.

Substitutes

Julian Brandt: 6/10

Julian Brandt looked wobbly throughout the game after replacing Dahoud early on in the proceedings. His first touch was often poor while the midfielder also gave away possession too easily at times. Needs to improve.

Marius Wolf: 6/10

Marius Wolf didn’t offer any quality to the table after coming on for Hazard during the final third 20 minutes of game. He wasn’t able to cause problems for the Sporting backline.

Nico Schulz: 6/10

Nico Schulz offered defensive support after replacing Guerreiro during the final phase of the game. Also attempted to go forward when given the opportunity.

Reinier: 5/10

Reinier was asked to form the first line of press alongside Reus during the final stage of the game.

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