Borussia Dortmund fought back to earn a point as they drew 1-1 against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
In a first half of very few chances it was Hoffenheim who broke the deadlock just before half-time when Brazilian Joelinton capitalised on Dortmund's slack defending as the striker calmly stroked the ball into the corner of the net from inside the area to give the home side the lead.
Hoffenheim began the second half strongly and had two goals disallowed inside the first ten minutes of the restart, the first from Ermin Bicakcic and the second from Andrej Kramaric.
Controversy struck with just 15 minutes of the game remaining when Abdou Diallo was shown a straight red card. The France international was deemed to have denied Kramaric a clear goalscoring opportunity on the edge of the box, however, on second viewing it looked like a harsh decision.
Despite going to down to ten men Dortmund continued to attack and they were rewarded for their efforts when Marco Reus found himself in the Hoffenheim box and beautifully squared the ball to Christian Pulisic who tapped the ball home.
Pulisic deserved that goal. He's been *awesome* today.— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 22, 2018
Dortmund were lucky to walk away with a point after a disappointing display at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
Key Talking Point
After a poor start to their domestic campaign, it was worrying times for Hoffenheim, but after this display it seems as though they have nothing to worry about.
Hoffenheim finished in the top four last season and repeating that feat will no doubt be the goal this season. They showed against Dortmund that they possess to once again challenge for a Champions League spot.
Stating XI: Baumann (6), Bicakcic (6), Vogt (6), Posch (6), Brenet (6), Bittencourt (5), Grillitsch (7), Zuber (7), Schulz (8), Kramaric (6), Joelinton (7).
Substitutes: Nordtveit (6), Belfodil (5), Szalai (6).
Germany international Nico Schulz was a thorn in the Dortmund side from the first whistle. Playing as a left wing back, Schulz bombed up and down the line all day.
Nico Schulz is a damn beast. I’d love to see him at Arsenal— Nol (@Nolpanduri) September 22, 2018
Schulz has had an impressive year so far, and in that time has earned a call-up to the national side, certainly a player to keep an eye on this season.
Leonardo Bittencourt came up against his former side on Saturday and it's fair to say he showed why Dortmund let him go. Dominated by Axel Witsel in the midfield, Bittencourt lost nearly every 50/50 against the Belgian.
Bittencourt was poor in front of goal on the day and should have put the home side ahead with just 15 minutes gone, but his close-range shot was saved well by Roman Burki.
Key Talking Point
Dortmund played with Marco Reus up front and it was very evident that the German did not feel comfortable playing as a striker.
Spaniard Paco Alcacer has been brought in to fill the void left by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but with the ex-Barcelona star missing Dortmund looked lost up front. The German giants will need to sort this issue out if they are to challenge for the title this season.
Stating XI: Burki (6), Piszczek (6), Akanji (6), Diallo (6), Schmelzer (6), Witsel (7), Dahoud (6), Wolf (5), Kagawa (8), Pulisic (7), Reus (7).
Substitutes:, Philipp (6), Sancho (6), Delaney (6).
The star man in midweek, Pulisic began were he left off against Club Brugge. The American impressed with his direct dribbling.
The 20-year-old scored the equaliser and will be hoping his goalscoring streak can continue against Nurnberg on Wednesday.
Marius Wolf has featured heavily for Dortmund this season and in every performance the ex-Eintracht Frankfurt star has looked good. However, against Hoffenheim he was far from his best.
Wolf failed to make any real impact in the game and on many occasions was easily dispossessed. Room to improve for Wolf and hopefully he will learn from this display.
The draw for Dortmund is not the worst result in the world, but if they are to challenge for the title this season they will need to improve in the future.
As for Hoffenheim, after a shaky start to the season they seem to be back on track and ready to challenge for a top four spot.