Borussia Dortmund strolled to a 3-0 victory over an uninspired VfB Stuttgart side at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena on Saturday to stay in the title race.
- Dortmund 3-0 Stuttgart
- Kagawa opens scoring
- Pulisic adds second before the break
- Mkhitaryan seals game with third goal
- Stuttgart two points above the drop zone
Shinji Kagawa, Christian Pulisic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan piled further pressure on Jurgen Kramny’s struggling side, who are in serious danger of relegation hovering just two points above 16th-placed Werder Bremen.
Mkhitaryan was instrumental in all three goals – supplying an inch perfect delivery for Kagawa’s opener before his parried shot was slotted home by teenage midfielder Christian Pulisic. The third goal was an easy tap in for the in-form Armenian after some good work from Kagawa and striker Adrian Ramos.
The home side had a penalty claim waved away in the opening five minutes after Erik Durm’s clumsy challenge on Martin Harnik.
Dortmund didn’t let the mistake affect them and Marco Reus almost put them ahead; Piszczek’s shot from distance was deflected into his path in the box and the German only had Stuttgart goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton to beat from close range, but he scuffed his effort wide much to the dismay of the away support.
Midway through the first half, Shinji Kagawa was the man to break the deadlock. Mkhitaryan raided down the left flank before sending a pinpoint cross to the back post for the run of Kagawa, who was left with an easy finish to convert into an empty net.
Just after the goal, the game sparked to life with opportunities at both ends of the pitch.
Austrian forward Harnik caused major problems in the final third but Sokratis was at hand to make a good block to stop his shot from finding the net.
From the clearance, Dortmund broke with pace via Reus as he marauded through the middle and picked out Ramos in the box. The striker sent the ball back to his team-mate who then saw his shot brilliantly saved by Tyton.
Tyton was the called upon ten minutes later, making an incredible double save to deny Colombian forward Adrian Ramos to keep the relegation-threatened side within a shout just before the break.
However, teenage midfielder Christian Pulisic had other ideas on the brink of half-time. Mkhitaryan’s drive from distance skipped off the surface and caused problems for Tyton as he failed to gather the ball. The American pounced on the rebound to strike into the bottom corner and hand his side control of the game.
The second half produced more of the same as Mkhitaryan and Kagawa were at their fluent best – it took just ten minutes before the Armenian found his first of the game to make it 3-0. Kagawa was the architect of the goal as his mazy run and cross from the left presented an opening for Ramos. Tyton did well to keep the forward’s powerful header out, but his save went only as far as Mkhitaryan, who found the net with a composed finish.
Harnik and defender George Niedermeier had chances to pull the game back for the Stuttgart, but Die Rotten keeper Roman Burki was on hand to thwart anything thrown at him. With the home side desperately seeking a goal, Romas had the perfect chance to make it 4-0 on the counter but he fluffed his effort from point-blank range.
The scoreline remained 3-0 until full-time, with Dortmund keeping the title chase alive – albeit only just – trailing Bayern by seven points with three games to go.