Mired in a domestic winless streak that extended back nearly two months, Borussia Dortmund had to play host to second-place Borussia Mönchengladbach. Undoubtedly the new darlings of the Bundesliga, Mönchengladbach were the favored side as their new exciting core have delighted Bundesliga fans in recent months as they attempt to keep pace with Bayern Munich.
However, it was Dortmund who walked away with all three points behind a dominant defensive display that saw Gladbach take only a single shot all game and a single moment of utter madness from Cristoph Kramer.
The match started at a blistering pace, as Marco Reus missed just inches wide of the post on a quick attack inside two minutes. That pace continued for much of the first 10 minutes as both sides pushed to secure an early advantage.
In the 8th minute, a poor pass from Max Kruse gave Henrik Mkhiaryan free reign on right side of midfield. The Armenian's cross found Marco Reus, whose shot was tipped every so slightly by Yann Sommer before bouncing off the post. Combined with the chance for Reus in the opening minutes, it was a reminder to Mönchengladbach that just a moment of sloppiness is all Dortmund need to capitalize.
As the half wore on it was clear that BVB were intentionally targeting Alvaro Dominguez, the Gladbach leftback. The Spanish international was poor for most of the first half and looked like the converted centerback he is. Both Mkitaryan and Pizczek were aggressive on that front and it was one of the main threat avenues for Dortmund's attacks on goal. Despite the numerous changes generated, Dortmund's woeful shot attempts (and Yann Sommer) continually let Mönchengladbach off the hook.
Right before the half, a fantastic free kick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang curled toward the upper corner before it was palmed away by Yann Sommer. The Swiss goalkeeper was at full stretch, before tipping the ball over the crossbar. It was one of many excellent Dortmund chances that the Swiss international goalkeeper denied. At the half, the stat line said everything as the hosts enjoyed an 11-0 shot ratio.
The second half saw Lucien Favre substitute Oscar Wendt on for the exposed Dominguez. The game immediately changed as Dortmunds' main avenue of attack was stifled. The game settled into a holding pattern for about 15 minutes as both sides fought it out in the center of the park for control of the game.
However, it was Cristoph Kramer who changed everything. Under no duress in the 57th minute, the highly-touted German international attempted to chip pass back to Yann Sommer, but he hit the ball entirely too hard. The ball sailed well over the scrambling Sommer's head and Kramer scored a 45-yard chipped own goal. It was one of the most bizarre and embarrassing own goals you'll ever see.
In the moments after the goal, it was a great piece of sportsmanship to see Marco Reus console his fellow German national teammate. However, Reus had no compunction as just seconds later he blasted a thunderous shot from 20-yards off Yann Sommer's crossbar.
As the half wore on, Lucien Favre upended the game, putting Ibrahima Traore and Thorgan Hazard onto the field. Mönchengladach immediately sprang into action, as their new pace and directness started causing trouble for the Dortmund defense on the counterattack.
In the 80th minute, Gladbach were on the counter with Andre Hahn streaking though the middle. In an exceptionally risky challenge Sokratis scythed down Hahn at full speed with an elevated leg. While Sokratis was given a yellow, the dangerous nature of the play (Sokratis went off injured and was replaced by Matthias Ginter as a result) should really have resulted in something harsher from Felix Brych.
Despite late pressure from Mönchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund were able to hold their defensive line, earning three points and releasing the months of pent up frustration from BVB fans in a single explosive cheer at the sound of Felix Brych's whistle.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Pizczek, Subotic, Sokratis (Ginter 84'), Durm, Bender, Kehl, Mkhitaryan, Kagawa (Großkreutz 72'), Reus (Immobile 87'), Aubameyang
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer,Korb, Stranzl, Jantschke, Dominguez (Wendt 45'), Kramer, Nordtveit, Hermann (Traore 74'), Hahn, Raffael( Hazard 65'), Kruse
Goals: Kramer( 57' OG)