For Dortmund, the Bundesliga is about finishing as Robin to Bayern's Batman. They took one step toward achieving that goal on Sunday with a narrow victory over Freiburg. In Sunday's late match, Mainz and Hertha drew.
Dortmund were without striker Robert Lewandowski and attacking midfielder Marco Reus, and their creativity was sorely missed, as Jürgen Klopp's men struggled to put a hard-nosed Freiburg side under any pressure at all.
Indeed, the hosts had the better of the first half and felt hard done by when Dortmund defender took down Philipp Zulechner as the last man but was given only a yellow card.
Chances remained few and far between in the second half until the 58th minute, when Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl lobbed a wicked dipping ball from distance over Freiburg keeper Oliver Baumann. It was an unexpected display of finesse from the defensive midfielder.
Freiburg lacked the skill to punish their guests for an off-day, and Dortmund were able to kill the clock. The 1-0 victory takes Dortmund four points clear of second-placed Leverkusen. Freiburg stay second from bottom.
Mainz draw with Hertha
In Sunday’s late match, both hosts Mainz and visitors Hertha Berlin had the chance to go sixth with a win. And it was Mainz who seemed far more keen on the Europa League in the first half, starting four nominal strikers and peppering Hertha’s goal with shots. Only an excellent day at the office by Berlin keeper Thomas Kraft kept the game scoreless in the first half.
Hertha came out of the dressing rooms far more aggressively, and an errant pass by Eric-Maxim Choupo-Mouting helped them to the lead. Striker Adrian Ramos scooped up the ball and finished clinically.
Mainz kept plugging away, and in minute 66, Sami Allagui brought down Ja-Cheol Koo in the area. Choupo-Moting was cool from the spot to level the score.
Both teams had some minor chances in the final half-hour, but, as the match wore on, it was clear that a draw was on the cards. The 1-1 final result leaves Mainz in seventh and Hertha in ninth.