Saturday December 02, 2023

6 of the best as Dortmund surge top for now, Hoffenheim stop rot

Published : 18 Mar 2023, 23:42

  By Mark Meadows, dpa
18 March 2023, North Rhine-Westphalia, Dortmund: Dortmund's Marco Reus (R) celebrates scoring his side's sixth goal with teammates during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Cologne at Signal Iduna Park. Photo: Bernd Thissen/dpa.

Borussia Dortmund powered to the top of the Bundesliga for a day at least after four well-worked team goals set up a 6-1 home thumping of faltering Cologne on Saturday.

Bayern Munich can reclaim first place on Sunday with a point at Bayer Leverkusen, but Dortmund made sure they headed into the international break in great spirits thanks to first-half goals from Raphael Guerreiro, Sebastien Haller, Marco Reus and Donyell Malen.

In the second half, Haller had a tap-in before Reus struck the sixth.

"We started well and had good control of the game," Reus told Sky after his 150th Bundesliga goal and 161st in all competitions for Dortmund, putting him second behind Adi Preißler (177 goals).

"I would happily end my career here, I feel great here."

Cologne - now in 13th spot - have not now won in the league in five games, with coach Steffen Baumgart partly blaming the distraction of the city's famous carnival celebrations in February. This was their biggest defeat under his stewardship.

Hoffenheim earlier lifted themselves off the bottom with a 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Hertha Berlin, ending a run of seven straight defeats and recording their first win in 15 games since October 14.

Striker Andrej Kramaric scored two first-half penalties and Ihlas Bebou struck on 51 minutes as the hosts moved out of the drop zone to 15th place, with Hertha slipping into the relegation play-off spot.

"It's always good to win. We deserved it. I'm also happy for the lads that they were finally able to get their reward," said Hoffenheim coach Pellegrino Matarazzo, who reports said was already on shaky ground after five losses in his five games in charge.

VfB Stuttgart replaced Hoffenheim at the bottom after their former player Omar Marmoush netted in a 1-0 defeat at home to Wolfsburg, while second-bottom Schalke scored a controversial penalty in stoppage time for a 1-1 draw at 10-man Augsburg.

Bochum sit three points above Hoffenheim and four above Hertha in a packed lower half thanks to a lucky 1-0 win at home to third-placed RB Leipzig, whose Champions League qualification hopes took a knock as a painful week after the thrashing by Manchester City got worse.

Dortmund surged eight points above Leipzig and one ahead of Bayern after a quick-fire double started their rout.

Portugal's versatile Guerreiro played in midfield rather than left back and struck on 15 minutes after Malen's clever nutmeg.

Forward Haller soon fired in after Reus' clever flick and Reus himself made it 3-0 after just 32 minutes with another team goal.

A fourth followed from Malen four minutes later. Defender Niklas Süle - left out of the current Germany squad - produced a superb pass to release the Dutch winger, but he still had lots to do.

Davie Selke got Cologne on the scoresheet before half-time but the game was already over. Haller grabbed his second of the match and third since returning from cancer treatment after Mahmoud Dahoud's free-kick came back off the bar, just before Reus added the gloss.

Dortmund rebounded in style from last weekend's 1-1 draw at Schalke, which snapped an eight-game winning streak in the Bundesliga.

It was their biggest win under coach Edin Terzic and they next travel to champions Bayern in a title cracker after the international break.

Fourth-placed Union Berlin welcome Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, with Freiburg - in fifth - travelling to Mainz. On Friday, mid-table sides Borussia Mönchengladbach and Werder Bremen drew 2-2.