Borussia Dortmund kept their Bundesliga title hopes alive with a 3-2 victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf in a pulsating clash at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.
Raphael Guerreiro's cross was nodded into the path of Christian Pulisic by Thomas Delaney and the American had the simple task of heading the ball home from close range early on.
Die Borussen's hopes of controlling the early stages of the second half suffered a blow when Markus Suttner's cross was met by a seemingly tame header from Oliver Fink, but stand-in Dortmund goalkeeper Marwin Hitz made a mess of it and spilled the ball into the net for 1-1.
Rather than lick their wounds, Lucien Favre's side went on the attack and were rewarded with a response just six minutes later, as Thomas Delaney's persistence paid off. The midfielder surged into the box and thumped home a left footed drive after his initial effort was blocked.
The visitors were awarded a penalty soon after, but Dodi Lukebakio fired a wide of the post before Dusseldorf's Adam Bodzek was sent off for a reckless challenge on Jadon Sancho late on.
Mario Gotze lashed home an emphatic third in stoppage time to seal the deal for Dortmund. Dawid Kownacki threatened to spoil the party late on with another reply for Dusseldorf, but Die Borussen survived the late scare to keep their title challenge alive ahead of the final day.
Key Talking Point
Dortmund knew that they had no margin for error on Saturday, needing to win in each of their two remaining Bundesliga games and hoping that Bayern Munich would slip up in their bid to snatch the German title away from their Bavarian counterparts.
Lucien Favre's side were not helped in their efforts by a number of selection issues. Roman Burki's injury meant Marwin Hitz had to deputise in goal, while captain Marco Reus served the final game of his three-game suspension and Jadon Sancho was only fit enough for the bench.
#bvb not figuring how to move ball forward and automatisms lacking.— Fussball Addict (@FussBall_Addict) May 11, 2019
Die Borussen also opted for experience at the back, with Lukasz Piszczek starting at right back and Abdou Diallo another absentee. After surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Werder Bremen last time out, Dortmund were already well aware of the potential problems that would face them on Saturday in their continued battle to turn the tide of the title race.
The home side certainly missed Reus' imagination and Sancho's flair in attack as they struggled to make their dominance in possession pay with the game becoming incredibly open in the second half, and Favre's side were lucky to escape with Dusseldorf's missed penalty.
Dortmund were far from their best form in all areas of the pitch, as key absences clearly took their toll, but Favre's side had just enough quality to ensure they stayed in the title race for the final weekend.
Starting XI: Hitz (4); Piszczek (6), Weigl (5), Akanji (5), Guerreiro (7); Witsel (6), Delaney (7); Pulisic (8*), Gotze (7), Bruun Larsen (6); Alcacer (6)
Substitutes: Sancho (6), Schmelzer (N/A), Philipp (N/A)
STAR MAN - Dortmund struggled to make their dominance in possession tell early on, but Christian Pulisic always looked the most likely to break down Dusseldorf's well-organised defence early on and it was the American who gave his side the lead.
Pulisic was making his final home appearance for Dortmund before completing his summer switch to Chelsea and the winger proved once more why he has been such a hit at Signal Iduna Park with an unrelentingly lively and decisive performance on the right flank.
Starting XI: Rensing (6); Zimmermann (6), Ayhan (5), Hoffmann (5), Giesselmann (6); Bodzek (4); Kownacki (6), Stoger (6), Fink (7), Suttner (7); Lukebakio (6)
Substitutes: Raman (5), Karaman (5), Morales (N/A)
Dortmund's title challenge will go down to the final day of the season following Bayern Munich's draw with RB Leipzig on Saturday, as Die Borussen take on Borussia Monchengladbach next time out in the Bundesliga at Borussia-Park next Saturday.