Erling Haaland returned from injury and scored as Borussia Dortmund oust VfL Wolfsburg 3-1 at the Volkswagen Arena.

Borussia Dortmund maintained the pressure on league leaders Bayern Munich by securing a 3-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday. The win could give the Black and Yellows some much-needed confidence ahead of next weekend’s Der Klassiker.

Coming on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Sporting CP in midweek, Borussia Dortmund had a positive start to the game, winning a corner to make an early statement of intent. But they were quickly caught out by a brisk counter-attack that saw Wout Weghorst find the opener. It was a real blow for the visitors, who were already lacking confidence and belief after the midweek’s Champions League elimination.

However, Die Schwarzgelben deserve credit for not falling apart, as they capitalised from their good start to the game to put pressure on the Wolfsburg defence. It paid off in the end, with Marco Reus winning a penalty just after the half-hour mark. It was converted by Emre Can, giving Dortmund a 1-1 parity heading into half-time.

In the second half, the visitors looked even more threatening. They were willing to go all out against the Wolves’ backline that looked nervy and eventually conceded the second goal in the 55th minute. The goal was scored by Donyell Malen, whose strike from just outside the penalty area deceived Pavao Pervan in goal.

Wolfsburg, though, did immediately put Dortmund under pressure after conceding the second goal. But they were undone by a late goal from the returning Erling Haaland, as the Black and Yellows secured all three points at the end, largely thanks to some diligent defending.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will rank the Borussia Dortmund players in their crucial win over Wolfsburg this weekend.

Gregor Kobel: 8/10

Gregor Kobel produced a brilliant effort in between the sticks for Borussia Dortmund. He could not have done much Weghorst’s early header, but the Swiss international made crucial saves to deny the likes of Aster Vranckx and Maximilian Arnold. His solidity in between the sticks was crucial in helping Dortmund get over the line with all three points.

Thomas Meunier: 7/10

It was a mature performance from Thomas Meunier. He may not have been particularly imposing on the right flank, but he was always a crucial outlet in the press, creating multiple turnovers. His ability to play the ball out from the back was also key in helping his team evade the Wolfsburg press.

Manuel Akanji: 8.5/10

Manuel Akanji had a good game at the heart of the Borussia Dortmund backline. He was calm in possession, playing the ball out from the back rather well. Defensively, he looked confident with his tackles while being equally dominating in one-on-one duels, making him one of the best performers on the pitch.

Mats Hummels: 8.5/10

Despite conceding the early goal, Mats Hummels had a brilliant game against Wolfsburg. His experience, composure and leadership were vital in helping his team not lose focus in the game. As far as his defensive work is concerned, the veteran put his body on the line on various occasions in order to deny Wolfsburg a way back into the game in the second half. He was quite successful as well, as the Wolves failed to get back into the game despite their pressure.

Nico Schulz: 7/10

Filling in for the injured Raphael Guerreiro, Nico Schulz had yet another disastrous start to the game. He had problems keeping up with Ridle Baku throughout the first half. However, an improved second-half display saw him cause quite a stir on the left flank, even coming close to finding a goal shortly after the restart. His pace was also useful in keeping check of the Wolfsburg runners out wide.

Emre Can: 7.5/10

Operating at the base of Marco Rose’s 4-1-3-2, Emre Can produced a spirited display in the middle of the park. He was strong in his challenges as ever, and playing ahead of Axel Witsel, he offered a pinch of speed and dynamism Dortmund would not usually get. It was useful in seeing off the challenge from the Wolfsburg midfielders, while the former Liverpool man also converted the all-important penalty in the first half.

Mahmoud Dahoud: 7.5/10

Mahmoud Dahoud made quite an impression upon his return to the starting eleven. His contributions in the second line of press were paramount in helping Dortmund create crucial turnovers that helped them dominate the proceedings. Dahoud’s passing was not quite up to the mark just yet, but the former Gladbach midfielder is certain to improve from here on in.

Julian Brandt: 9/10

Julian Brandt was the undisputed man of the match for Borussia Dortmund in this vital win. The former Bayer Leverkusen starlet was the creator-in-chief, even channelling the efficiency of former German international Mesut Ozil with some of his forward passes and balls into the box. He ended up assisting Haaland for Dortmund’s third of the night.

But apart from the chances created, Brandt put in an extraordinary shift in the middle of the park. He helped out Dahoud and Can in the press, even winning a host of balls in the middle and often launching dangerous counter-attacks. Brandt has the potential of becoming a major asset for his team if he can work a little more on his precision.

Marius Wolf: 7/10

Marius Wolf’s return to the starting eleven proved to be handier for Dortmund than one was expecting. The former Koln star offered a kind of aggression and commitment Dortmund were lacking in their recent matches. Sure enough, he made spirited runs forward, making life difficult for the Wolfsburg defenders while also chipping in on his defensive duties.

Marco Reus: 8/10

Marco Reus produced yet another excellent shift in the final third, oscillating between the number nine and the number eight position. His one-touch passing was brilliant as ever, though he could have been much more effective if Dortmund had a better left wing-back. Nevertheless, the German still deserves credit for winning the penalty that led to the equaliser while also registering the assist for Malen’s winner in the second half.

Aside from his offensive contributions, Reus led from the front by covering a lot of ground and doing the defensive work. In fact, one of his clearances were vital in denying Wolfsburg the second goal during the final phase of the game.

Donyell Malen: 7.5/10

Donyell Malen continues to improve, and he produced yet another impressive display in the final third. The Dutchman looked much more open in his game, often finding teammates in key areas while his combination play with Reus improved considerably.

Although there is still a long way to go, he capped off a good display with an important second-half goal to seal all three points for his team. He has now scored three goals in the last three competitive games for Dortmund.

SUBSTITUTES

Ansgar Knauff: 6.5/10

Ansgar Knauff came on to replace Wolf around the hour mark. He had a couple of excellent moments out wide but did not make a noticeable impact on the proceedings.

Erling Haaland: 7.5/10

Erling Haaland made his much-awaited return in the 73rd minute, replacing Donyell Malen. The Norwegian instantly improved Dortmund’s offensive game due to his sheer physical strength and speed. He marked his return with a phenomenal goal from close range to seal all three points for his side and extend his scoring tally in the Bundesliga to ten goals this season.

Axel Witsel: N/A

A late replacement for Can. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Dan-Axel Zagadou: N/A

A late replacement for Schulz. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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