Erling Haaland made his return from injury as Borussia Dortmund secured a vital 1-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld.

Borussia Dortmund kept the Bundesliga title race alive, thanks to a narrow 1-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday. The victory has helped them bridge the gap at the top to seven points, with the Black and Yellow having the opportunity to further reduce the deficit when they meet 1.FSV Mainz in a midweek fixture.

As the scoreline suggests, it was not the most clinical performance from a Dortmund side that were faring without a host of top quality players. It forced Marco Rose to opt for a backline consisting of Marin Pongracic, Emre Can, Nico Schulz and Felix Passlack.

As a result, Dortmund were unable to create enough chances, looking quite sloppy in the build-up and even giving the ball away cheaply on numerous occasions. However, a moment of brilliance from the Dortmund attackers saw Thorgan Hazard craft an easy goalscoring opportunity for Marius Wolf, who made no mistake in opening the scoring in the 21st minute.

The goal turned out to be the only difference between the two sides, as Arminia failed to equalise despite their attacking endeavours. Dortmund themselves could have extended their lead, but the lack of end product forced them to defend a slender lead during the final phase of the game.ย Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Borussia Dortmund players in their narrow victory over Arminia Bielefeld this weekend.

Gregor Kobel: 7/10

Gregor Kobel had to be on his toes once again as Arminia Bielefeld offered a threat on the counter and set pieces. He made a couple of decent saves and looked solid as ever in between the sticks. His decision making, coupled with his swift handling of the ball, was vital in helping Dortmund keep the clean sheet.

Felix Passlack: 7/10

Felix Passlack was granted a rare start in the absence of Thomas Meunier, Manuel Akanji and Mateu Morey. For a considerable period of the first half, he was one of Dortmund’s best performers, carrying the ball well out wide. His lack of pace or strength became a problem, but he was solid enough to fend off the threat from Robin Hack.

Emre Can: 6.5/10

Emre Can could have easily gotten sent off due to his bulging challenge on Patrick Wimmer. The German tends to make the same mistakes repetitively, which becomes problematic for his team. However, he deserves credit for a couple of crucial clearances that could have otherwise resulted in an Arminia goal.

Marin Pongracic: 6.5/10

Marin Pongracic was not one of the best performers on the pitch. But he certainly looked untroubled in dealing with the Arminia attackers, especially in the first half. He did struggle in duels, though, with Fabian Klos, in particular, causing a lot of danger in the air.

Nico Schulz: 5/10

Nico Schulz offered very little to the game from the left-back position. Instead, the former Hoffenheim star gave away possession on multiple occasions and looked lacklustre with his build-up play from the back. He needs to be offloaded after the end of the season.

Mahmoud Dahoud: 7.5/10

Mahmoud Dahoud had an excellent game in the middle of the park. The former Borussia Monchengladbach prodigy was willing to make things happen with his forward passes and an eye for the extraordinary. He looked in fine touch, especially in the second half, following the introduction of Erling Haaland and Giovanni Reyna, as he drove forward and helped out in the attack.

Axel Witsel: 6.5/10

Axel Witsel was not extraordinary. His influence in the middle of the park, though, was crucial in helping Dortmund retain possession. The ageing Belgian was far too conservative with his passing, but it did not impact the flow of the game.

Marius Wolf: 7.5/10

Marius Wolf produced an excellent shift on the right midfield position. He consistently utilised acres of space available on the right-back, making marauding runs into the final third and probing the Arminia backline. He was the one that scored the all-important opener and might have even gotten a second, moments later.

Thorgan Hazard: 6.5/10

Thorgan Hazard appeared to be the creator-in-chief for a Borussia Dortmund side that were desperately looking for some creativity. The Belgian offered that spark in the final third, notably crafting the opportunity for Wolf. His influence, though, faded as the game progressed.

Jude Bellingham: 6/10

Jude Bellingham deserves credit for the opening goal, as it was his delightful pass to Hazard that opened up the Arminia backline. Apart from that, though, the youngster had a slightly disappointing evening. While he offered no shortage of commitment, he was slightly inaccurate with his passes and lacked concentration at times.

Donyell Malen: 6.5/10

Donyell Malen was not as influential as he would have liked. But the Dutchman’s vicious right foot caused an array of problems for the Arminia defence that was forced to close him down quicker than others. Malen notably hit the bar once and was quite unlucky not to find the target.

SUBSTITUTES

Erling Haaland: 7/10

Erling Haaland instantly offered that physical spark and pace Dortmund were missing in the final third. His return could be a massive boost for the Black and Yellows in their bid to chase Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title.

Giovanni Reyna: 7/10

Giovanni Reyna was the second player to make his return from injury in this game. He offered creativity in the final third and looked dangerous on the left hand side.

Julian Brandt: 7/10

Julian Brandt looked extremely influential after coming on for Wolf. He crafted a couple of excellent goalscoring opportunities late in the game.

Lennard Maloney: N/A

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

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