Borussia Dortmund have overcome a valiant defensive effort from Eintracht Braunschweig to win their home-opener 1-0. In Nuremberg, an impressive Hiroshi Kiyotake free kick salvaged a draw against Hertha Berlin.
Expectations were high for Borussia Dortmund's first home match of the season, against Eintracht Braunschweig on Sunday. The club's marquee summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan was slotted directly into the starting lineup for his home debut. Marco Reus and Neven Subotic were left on the bench.
Despite spending almost the entire match inside their own half, Braunschweig's defense was organized and sturdy from the start. The speedy combination of Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubumeyang and Jakub Blaszczykowski were a handful for the entire first half, yet, after the opening period of play, neither side had managed a shot on goal.
In the second half, it was just a matter of time. Braunschweig continued to play well, with goalkeeper Daniel Divari producing several key saves, but the Dortmund attack was simply too much. Young talent Jonas Hofmann, who had replaced Aubameyang moments earlier, put the hosts ahead in the 75th minute.
It all started with a giveaway at midfield. Mats Hummels picked up the ball, played a one-two with Hofmann, putting him through on the right with a wonderful pass. Hofmann fired a low shot across goal from a tight angle that bounced kindly off the post and into the net.
Just over 10 minutes later, Hofmann was fouled in the box by Braunschweig's Ermin Bicakcic and Reus converted the penalty.
The visitors were given a ray of hope in the 89th minute, when Kevin Kratz's header bounced off Robert Lewandowski's head to make it 2-1, but two minutes of stoppage time wasn't enough and the game finished a deserved 2-1.
"Braunschweig had great consistency in their defensive plan," head coach Jürgen Klopp told broadcaster Sky after the match. "In the second half we had a lot of chances, then came Jonas Hofman and the game turned in the right direction."
Dortmund join Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Mainz and Werder Bremen as the Bundesliga's only teams to have grabbed two wins from their first two matches.
Kiyotake saves Nuremberg
Hertha Berlin may have gone into the match Sunday off the back of an impressive 6-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, but history was not on their side against Nuremberg. The Berlin outfit had lost their last four league games against The Club, and to find their last win in Nuremberg you have to go back more than a decade, to March 2003.
Nonetheless Hertha looked up for the challenge, and pushed Nuremberg from the start. The visitors controlled possession and the attacking trio of Adrian Ramos, Sami Allagui and Anis Ben-Hatira looked dangerous as ever on the counter, but Nuremberg's tidy defense kept them at bay.
The hosts, however, were provided plenty of opportunities to score. Hertha conceded free kick after free kick in their own half, a dangerous move with Nuremberg's Hiroshi Kiyotake providing the set piece delivery.
Just five minutes before the break, the hosts got on the board. Striker Daniel Ginczek won the ball at half field and fought through several defenders before laying off to Josip Drma in the box. The hard work was already done for the Swiss winger, and simple finish beat Thomas Kraft to make it 1-0.
In the 61st minute, Hertha scored what would be the first of their two rather lucky goals. Allagui cut in from the right wing, but slipped as he put a shot on goal. The ball bounced off the chest of Berkay Dablani, however, and beat an out-of-position Raphael Schäfer to make it 1-1.
Hertha brought on supersub Ronny just after the hour mark, and not 15 minutes later he made his impact. Javier Pinola was rather harshly judged to have gotten more than just the ball when he tackled Alexander Baumjohann in the box. Ronny calmly dispatched the penalty and suddenly it was 2-1.
Determined to keep their impressive home record against Hertha alive, however, Nuremberg pushed on. In the 89th minute the visitors conceded yet another free kick outside the box and this time Kiyotake punished them. The Japanese midfielder sent a wonderful free kick over the wall and into the net to make it 2-2 just moments before the final whistle.
"The team showed morale," said Nuremberg head coach Michael Wiesinger after the match. "We have two points and have arrived in the league."
The draw is Nuremberg's second of the season, while Hertha's dropped points mean their short-lived time atop the Bundesliga table comes to an end.