Donyell Malen scored his first Bundesliga goal as Borussia Dortmund secured a vital 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart.

Borussia Dortmund got right back into the title race by securing a hard-fought 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart on Saturday. The three points helped them close the gap to Bayern Munich at the top to just one point after the Bavarians had fallen to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of FC Augsburg on Friday.

It was not the best of performances from Die Schwarzgelben, who were playing attractive football but had difficulties finding the end product in the final third. It led to an even first-half, with Stuttgart creating the dangerous goalscoring opportunities. Dortmund, though, were resilient at the back, not allowing too much breathing space for the opposition attackers.

In the second half, Dortmund did find the breakthrough in the 56th minute, thanks to Donyell Malen. But their lead didn’t last long as Roberto Massimo beat Mats Hummels in a one-on-one situation to level the scoring. It was a shocking goal to concede for the hosts, but they deserve credit for not giving up hope.

In the end, they were rewarded as Marco Reus tapped home the winner in the 85th minute, capitalising on a counter-attack. His goal was enough to seal all three points for his team. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will rank the Borussia Dortmund players in their narrow win over Stuttgart this weekend.

Gregor Kobel: 7/10

Gregor Kobel couldn’t have done much to deny Massimo’s second-half equaliser. However, the Dortmund goalkeeper was once again alert between the sticks, notably pulling off an extraordinary save in the first half to deny Tanguy Coulibaly. He certainly deserved a clean sheet, but the ‘keeper has probably gotten used to missing clean sheets at this point.

Thomas Meunier: 6.5/10

It was a mixed game for Thomas Meunier at right-back. He was reliable on the ball, at times, especially when playing it out from the back. He was solid defensively as well but did lack the quality with his marking from set-pieces while getting rattled by the marauding Stuttgart full-back.

Manuel Akanji: 6.5/10

Manuel Akanji was by far Dortmund’s best player in the first half. He was rock solid with his marking and tackles, notably making two goal-saving challenges on Coulibaly. However, the Swiss international conceded the turnover that led to the leveller from Stuttgart while he also struggled with his marking from set-pieces.

Mats Hummels: 6/10

Mats Hummels had a solid first half as he used his experience and intelligence to stop the Stuttgart forwards in their tracks. It was a different story after the restart, as the defender got exposed numerous times in one-on-one situations, including the one with Massimo, which led to the equaliser.

Raphael Guerreiro: 6.5/10

Making his return to the pitch after a long injury layoff, Raphael Guerreiro was useful with his silky footwork, and excellent combination play out wide. The Portuguese international certainly wasn’t the best performer of the game, though, and he was subbed off around the hour mark.

Axel Witsel: 7/10

After receiving vicious criticism for his performance against Leipzig, Axel Witsel produced a much-improved display in the middle of the park. He was passive, at times, with his passing, but the Belgian international showcased his experience and intelligence to remain composed and secured in possession.

Jude Bellingham: 7/10

Jude Bellingham wasn’t one of the best players on the pitch. Nonetheless, it was his aggression, diligence and work ethic that added another edge to Dortmund’s counter-pressing. Indeed, the Englishman created multiple turnovers in the middle of the park, even moving forward with the ball on several occasions.

Julian Brandt: 6/10

Julian Brandt showcased one or two flashes of his brilliance. However, it was a largely below-par performance from the former Bayer Leverkusen whizkid. He was clumsy with his passing, often lacking the precision, while his frail nature in possession allowed Stuttgart to crucial turnovers in the middle third of the pitch.

Marco Reus: 7.5/10

Marco Reus put in an excellent shift in the number ten position. He worked hard as ever, and along with Bellingham, was a vital cog in the team’s second line of press. Offensively, Reus’ combination play made him a creator-in-chief for Dortmund and ultimately, it was his tap-in that secured all three points for his team.

Thorgan Hazard: 6.5/10

Thorgan Hazard had a mixed game against Stuttgart. He initially started the game as a supporting forward but had to drift into the left flank as the game progressed. He was never short of work ethic and showed no lethargy in closing down the Stuttgart ball-carrier. The Belgian did lack decision making at times, but he was crucially involved in the counter-attack that led to the winner.

Donyell Malen: 7.5/10

It was always going to be an important game for Donyell Malen, having struggled throughout his Dortmund career so far. The Dutchman didn’t disappoint, producing a valiant display in the number nine role. He also tried to minimise his ineffective dribbles and instead trying to link up with teammates, eventually getting rewarded with his first Bundesliga goal. Positive signs for the Dortmund forward.

Substitutes

Emre Can: 6.5/10

Emre Can came on for Guerreiro to offer more solidity at left-back. He put in a good shift, notably making a crucial clearance to deny Coulibaly the opportunity to put in a cross inside the box, with forwards lurking.

Steffen Tigges: 6.5/10

Steffen Tigges had a good game after coming on for Brandt during the final phase of the game. He kickstarted the counter-attack that led to the winner and established himself as an imposing presence in the final third.

Ansgar Knauff: N/A

Ansgar Knauff was full of energy after coming on for Malen late in the game. Did not play enough to warrant a rating, though.

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