Chris Williams – DORTMUND, GERMANY
Borussia Dortmund vs Köln – January, 24 – SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund performed at their very best, cruising past Köln 5-1 with standout performances from Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels – however, the end story was all about one particular forward, who found the net for the fifth time in two games.
The surprise pre-match was the non-inclusion of Erling Braut Haaland. Hat-trick hero from last weekend’s game against Augsburg, the new arrival could only find a seat on the bench – Lucien Favre opted against giving the teenager a starting debut in front of the Yellow Wall.
Not that it mattered, there was hardly time to draw breath after the kickoff before Dortmund grabbed the lead. Mats Hummels’ searching long ball found Marco Reus, who in turn laid it off to Jadon Sancho.
The Englishman drove towards goal and picked out Raphaël Guerreiro, 52 seconds had elapsed as the midfielder’s shot hit the back of the net. Köln were in trouble, and the pressure quickly mounted further for the Billy Goats.
Sebastiaan Bornauw flew into a tackle on Achraf Hakimi, Harm Osmers pointed to the spot but a VAR review showed the initial challenge to be on the very edge of the box. With just 11 minutes gone Dortmund were threatening to run away with the tie.
Hummels then rattled the Köln crossbar from the resulting corner, an almost perfect header on the end of an equally good cross from Reus. Dortmund were probing constantly and it was Hummels who was finding the most joy, rolling back the clock with some exquisite pin-point long balls.
One had to become two, and so it did on the half-hour mark. Reus latched onto the end of a Hummels special, time for another VAR interlude, overturning the incorrect offside awarded by the assistant on the nearside. The review system is still not popular in Germany but it finds the correct result. However, it was a milestone for the captain, his 50th goal under the stewardship of Favre.
As half time approached, Ellyes Skhiri was the only Effzeh player to threaten the hosts’ goal but his shot on 38 minutes was easily dealt with by Roman Bürki. Thorgan Hazard could – and probably should – have put the game beyond the Cologne side just a minute later, but Timo Horn saved well with his legs. Its was a rapid first half, and Dortmund looked in cruise control.
Dortmund struggled as the second half opened, failing to score after one minute it took them three – facetiousness aside, it was another breathtaking opening. Reus picked out Sancho inside the box with a ball of optimum quality, the forward added to his assist with a goal in front of the Südtribüne.
The hosts kept pressing and should have added a fourth, but as seen many times this season they just couldn’t get the ball over the line, a minor criticism in this particular fixture.
Haaland was ready and stripped on the sideline, but as he was about to come on Mark Uth fired one back for the visitors. It didn’t detract from the welcome the Norwegian received – however, it was a reminder that this Dortmund side can leak goals when in control of a fixture.
Köln weren’t done, 3-1 down but they refused to give up. Jonas Hector had a sight at goal but his header was far to tame to trouble Bürki. But, on the 77th minute, the masses inside Signal Iduna Park had what they wanted – Haaland, nine minutes after coming on, poached a shot that sent the largest standing terrace in Europe absolutely wild.
The teenager wasn’t done, rounding Horn in the 88th minute he finished from the acutest of angles, it was absolutely world-class. finish, another top-level showing from the teenager.
Borussia Dortmund vs Köln – Three Stars
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Another sublime performance by the Englishman, an assist and a well-taken goal brings him up to 12 and 11 respectively in the league this season. It was his 24th Bundesliga goal since he burst onto the scene, becoming the youngest player in league history to hit that number.
Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
Similar to Sancho, it was a goal and an assist for the captain. Reus led by example at the top of the field, working hard for the entire fixture. His linkup play with those around is to behold at times.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
The centre-back played in the same way as an American Football quarterback. Searching long balls found their targets and the goals followed. He looked like Hummels of old, the one who lifted the Meisterschale in his first spell with the club.
GOALS: 1-0 (Guerreiro, 1′), 2-0 (Reus, 30′), 3-0 (Sancho, 48′), 3-1 (Uth, 65′), 4-1 (Haaland, 77′), 5-1 (Haaland, 87′)
Borussia Dortmund vs Köln – Starting Lineups
Bürki – Piszczek, Hummels, Akanji – Hakimi, Brandt, Witsel, Guerreiro, Reus – Sancho, Hazard
Horn – Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos, Katterbach – Skhiri, Hector, Thielmann, Uth, Jakobs – Cordoba
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications, he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams