Bundesliga: Axel Witsel strike lifts Borussia Dortmund over Leipzig | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 19.01.2019
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Bundesliga: Axel Witsel strike lifts Borussia Dortmund over Leipzig

The Bundesliga leaders continued their winning ways in their first game of the new year. Axel Witsel score his second goal of the season, providing a crucial strike for a BVB side missing Marco Reus.

RB Leipzig 0-1 Borussia Dortmund
(Witsel 19')

Red Bull Arena, Leipzig

Borussia Dortmund picked up in 2019 where they left off in 2018, securing a solid victory away from home in Leipzig.

Axel Witsel provided Dortmund the only advantage they needed, and some spectacular saves from Roman Bürki kept the away side's advantage intact.

Dortmund were without their captain, Marco Reus, after he picked up a knock in training on Friday. But Witsel did well filling Reus' boots on Saturday evening.

Lukasz Piszczek, who was making his 200th career start for Dortmund, headed a corner right into the path of Witsel. The Belgian midfielder hit a half-volley into the back of the net off the underside of the crossbar, to notch his second goal against Leipzig this season.

The hosts had several chances to level the score, out-shooting Dortmund 12 to eight, but Bürki came up with five big saves to keep the home side off the scoreboard and hand Leipzig their first loss at home this season.

The victory for Borussia Dortmund restored their six-point advantage over defending league champions Bayern Munich in the table.

Fußball Bundesliga 18. Spieltag | RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Woitas)

Dortmund got a huge win against Leipzig to start the second half of the season

As it happened...

RESULT!

90+3' What a minute of football! Kampl slips and Alcacer can break through, but Werner races back to win it and start an attack. That ends in a cross for Cunha, which looks in but it's just side netting. Wow. Could have been 2-0 or 1-1 there!

90+2' Just one more minute of added time left...

90' CHANCE! Where is Alcacer's goal off the bench? There! Well, nearly. The Spaniard gets to a cross, flings a leg at it and it loops up only to hit the underside of the bar and clear. Maybe there's just no more room for Alcacer goals off the bench in the history books?

88' Leipzig trying all they can, but Dortmund playing it smart. Götze wins a free kick, slowing the time. Bürki takes an extra touch, which adds another 10 seconds. Jean-Kevin Augustin is on for Leipzig (Laimer off), Wolf is on for Sancho.

84' Pulisic's tricky opens up space to play it across to Sancho, who doesn't need to drop the shoulder but does and that gives Sabitzer time to get the tackle in. A part of his game that he still needs to work on, but he has time. Speaking of which, have Leipzig got enough left to get something?

78' SAVE! A career game for Bürki? It looks like it. Werner breaks through on the right, calls for an offside but no flag and he flashes a shot high towards the near post. Bürki palms athletically away. He then is well positioned to save a header. Pulisic is on for Guerreiro, Alcacer comes on for Philipp.

74' SAVE! A superb curling pass into the box from Werner finds Sabitzer and his first-time shot looks destined for the bottom corner but Bürki gets his foot to it to deny him. Not the first chance Leipzig have spurned today. 

68' Like a great film, this game is twisting and turning towards an unknown conclusion now. Upamecano is late on Philipp as he surges into the box from the right, yellow card (his fifth - a suspension is incoming) and Dortmund have a set-piece chance here. Guerreiro whips it, Gulacsi saves.

65' Every time I write or suggest that Dortmund are in control, they do something silly. A back pass is miscontrolled by Bürki, there's a scramble, the ball falls outside the box with the keeper nowhere, but somehow Dortmund clear. An invitation to score that...

63' It's cold in Leipzig. Dortmund's subs are warming up, including Marwin Hitz. Good on him. Unlikely to see the back-up keeper in action, but kudos to him for not shirking the chance to get the blood flowing with his teammates. Must be really cold eh? Sancho and Guerreiro swap wings in the hope of springing a surprise. The real question is, what have Leipzig got left in the tank?

58' Sancho is dazzling out there tonight. A gorgeously timed flick after a pass from Götze keeps the attack flowing. Sadly it comes to nothing, but that's part of the problem for Dortmund in the last 10 minutes - there's been no reward for their product. That suits Leipzig though, who are trying to keep the game end-to-end.

52' Götze slips a delightful diagonal pass behind Leipzig's back line, Sancho runs on but can't get an angle on goal and is forced wide. Nearly a real chance. Moments later, Philipp bursts clear and can get a shot on goal but Gulacsi saves well with his foot. Dortmund daring for a second here. Strong start to the second half.

51' Witsel wraps an elbow around Poulsen's neck and ear. Not nice. The Dane doesn't want the apology and the Belgian doesn't care for it. Tensions rising.

48' SAVE! Leipzig should be level. Konate turns into Messi, crosses for Sabitzer who can't really get it under control but in doing so gets an angle to shoot past Bürki. But the Swiss gets a great palm up to deny the Austrian's chipped attempt at what was either a shot or a cross. Blimey. Not sure how that didn't go in.

46' Leipzig get us restarted, with a rush of white shirts.

Halftime

And there we are. Dortmund deserve their lead, but only just. Leipzig showed flashes of brilliance, but lacked the final killer ball to make it count. A game on a knife edge, in a title race that threatens to do the same. A huge second half ahead.

44' Weigl escapes a yellow, and then times a slide tackle perfectly to intercept a neat pass into the box. Playing like a veteran center back tonight, so far. Halftime approaching.

41' CHANCE! Diallo pops up to connect with a free kick from the left that saw Konate booked, but his header is just wide. So close. Harsh to say he should have put that on target, but it was a chance nonetheless.

38' A bit sloppy here, but it's still Leipzig that look the more likely to score. Bürki claims bravely in front of a sliding Poulsen. All cliches aside, this is a key stage inside the game now, the seven minutes before the break.

34' CHANCE! Hakimi slips, Leipzig take advantage and get the cross in. It falls to Laimer, but it is blocked - potentially by teammate Werner - as Dortmund survive. The momentum has now well and truly swung in favor of the home side.

31' CHANCE! Of all the men Leipzig want to have the ball as an attack hits the edge of the area, Timo Werner is high on the list. But when the chance comes he overcooks the pass and the chance is gone. Can't waste those Timo, especially not if Bayern are watching. Leipzig reloading here...

27' Leipzig are under the cosh a bit here, but survive a whipped free kick from right from Guerreiro. That early pressure has all but disappeared.

23' Dortmund pushing for a second, but Philipp chooses the wrong option out of the four available. Can't be easy for him, having not been as involved of late, but tonight is a chance to step up without captain Reus.

19' GOAL! 1-0 Dortmund (Witsel) Corner to Dortmund, Piszczek doesn't get the header right, but Axel Witsel is at the back post and the Belgian hammers it in off the underside of the bar. A great feeling when the ball goes in off the woodwork, and that is a huge goal for Dortmund. As it stands, their lead at the top is back to six points.

18' A pause in the chaos. Well, the frantic and furious nature of the game has decreased a bit.

13' I love those direct passes from central defenders through the lines. Crisp and confident passing from center backs is an underrated quality. Diallo sends one through, and Dortmund send it wide but a superb tackle from Konate denies Philipp the chance in the box. Great all round play there.

9' No one is shy to take a shot in this one. Kevin Kampl has a go from range, but again it's an easy save. Nervous energy or part of the gameplan? Either way it is fun to watch.

7' Witsel bangs in a shot, but Gulacsi saves. Not much space to get a shot in there, but well done to the Belgian for making something out of nothing. Two corners follow, both come to nothing.

4' Ferocious start here from the home side. Timo Werner's flicked header forces a smart reflex save out of Bürki. Dortmund haven't settled yet, but Leipzig were never going to let them.

1' - We are underway in Leipzig! It's Dortmund who get us started.

18:15 - Lots of praise for Jadon Sancho by Michael Zorc, as well as yet another shutdown of transfer talk. "I expect him to be at Dortmund for a few more years yet." I imagine so. Game time approaching so Sancho will soon have a chance to show why BVB fans want him to stick around.

18:09 - "Our defense will work, don't worry," Lucien Favre told Sky before the game. Some pressure on Weigl to keep pace with Werner and Poulsen. Michael Zorc adds that it is a shame and "not good" that Reus is missing tonight. That will be key. Can Dortmund make a difference without their captain?

17:40 - TEAMS! A few surprises, Marco Reus the biggest of them all who is out of the squad after picking up a knock in injury yesterday. Paco Alcacer is on the bench, as usual, so a lot will be expected of Maxi Philipp and Jadon Sancho. Also Julian Weigl starts in the center of defense, filling in for the injured Toprak and Zagadou.

Leipzig have Willi Orban on the bench, preferring Konate, as is Tyler Adams who joined in the winter break from MLS side New York Red Bulls.

Borussia Dortmund XI: Bürki – Piszczek, Weigl, Diallo, Hakimi – Witsel, Delaney – Sancho, Philipp, Guerreiro – Götze

RB Leipzig XI: Gulacsi - Halstenberg, Konate, Upamecano, Klostermann - Laimer, Demme, Kampl, Sabitzer - Werner, Poulsen

17:37 - Good evening! Welcome to our live blog of tonight's big game between Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. Dortmund lost their penultimate game of the first half of the season, but otherwise enjoyed a sensational first few months. Lucien Favre's side sit top, three points clear of Bayern Munich. Their hosts, Leipzig, have had an indifferent season, but got it together in the final stretch so as to occupy the number four spot. Dortmund won 4-1 in the reverse fixture earlier this season, but I think it might be different this time around.