Bundesliga league leaders Borussia Dortmund suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Augsburg on Friday night as their quest for the Bundesliga title suffered a major blow.
A niggly opening nearly saw Lucien Favre's concede a penalty after three minutes. Dan-Axel Zagadou clattered over former Sunderland striker Ji Dong-won inside the box - but the offside flag was fortunately raised against the South Korean.
With Dortmund seeing plenty of possession, despite not creating many opportunities, they fell behind after 24 minutes. Andre Hahn's cross from the right was controlled and shot goalward by Ji, but after the ex-Black Cat's first effort was blocked he recovered to side-foot the rebound into the top corner to hand the Bundesliga strugglers a shock lead.
Die Borussen nearly drew level just before half time via Jacob Bruun Larsen, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Gregor Kobel after an exquisite first touch by the Dane.
The manner in which Dortmund fell two goals behind in the second half was nothing short of sublime. With three players in front of him, Ji looked trapped just outside the penalty box with no help nearby – only to produce a deft chip over Roman Burki that even Lionel Messi would have been proud of.
Ten minutes were left on the clock when Paco Alcacer reduced the arrears, finishing easily from Mario Gotze's cut back as Die Schwarzgelben searched for an undeserved equaliser. It wasn't forthcoming, however, and now their lead could be reduced to nothing if Bayern Munich win on the weekend.
Key Talking Point
Having gone five matches without a win prior to last week's victory over Bayer Leverkusen, the worry was whether Dortmund's title challenge was beginning to falter. After they secured the much needed victory last time out, Favre's side were desperate to maintain their three point lead over Bayern and, in fact, temporarily go six points clear ahead of Saturday's fixtures.
A nervy opening moment for Zagadou was set the tone for what was a massively under-par opening period from the visitors. Ji's opener gave the side 15th in the league a deserved lead heading into the second half in a miserable opening showing from the visitors
Favre's men failed to improve in the second period, rarely looking like threatening, with the return of Marco Reus offering the league leaders offering nothing in an attacking sense.
While there is no questioning the sheer brilliance of Ji's second, you always felt if there was to be a second goal, it would come Augsburg's way. And it did, in the form of a world-class finish by Ji as the leaders wobbled.
Friday's result - as well as three of their last five league matches - have been detrimental to their title bid, frittering away a nine point lead to potentially zero points after Bayern's match on Saturday. They got what they deserved against a side their were expected to walk over, and are now in a perilous position heading into the weekend.
Starting XI: Burki (6); Diallo (5), Zagadou (4), Akanji (4), Hakimi (4), Delaney (4), Witsel (4), Larsen (3), Reus (4), Sancho (5), Gotze (4)
Substitutes: Alcacer (6*), Philipp (4), Guerreiro (n/a)
STAR MAN - Paco Alcacer
There was nothing that Favre could have been happy about with his side's performance on Friday. All his forward players were poor, prompting a trio of second half substitutes. Alcacer was the pick of the bunch, first being denied by a superb save by Kobel, before finding the back of the net.
The Spaniard has been in poor form for his side of late, after a great start to life in the division, but his impact from the bench will surely give Favre something to think about ahead of their Champions League tie with Tottenham.
Next up for Dortmund is a colossal second leg tie against Tottenham in the Champions League on Tuesday before then hosting Stuttgart in the Bundesliga the following Saturday.
Strugglers Augsburg face the daunting task of travelling to RB Leipzig next Saturday before hosting Hannover 96.