Christian Pulisic scores first goal for Dortmund in win vs. Hamburg
Borussia Dortmund played themselves into a better place for Wednesday's cup semifinal against Hertha BSC in a dominant 3-0 home win over their bogey side HSV Hamburg following Thursday's devastating loss to Liverpool.
As has been the case in recent weeks, Thomas Tuchel rotated heavily, making eight changes from Thursday's Europa League starting XI. Both 17-year-old youngsters Christian Pulisic and Felix Passlack were awarded a start, while Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn't even make the squad.
Yet, Tuchel's lineup was still far from being experimental. Both Pulisic and Passlack proved that they were rightfully picked by their coach, turning in mature and reliable performances.
The match started out as a stale affair, with Dortmund not asking many questions of Hamburg's defence. It was newly minted United States international Pulisic who paved the way for an easy victory by scoring the opener in the 38th minute.
There is no doubt that the Americany will see more playing time under Jurgen Klinsmann in the national team very soon.
Hamburg's goalkeeper Rene Adler got sent off on 51 minutes for bringing down Shinji Kagawa on the outside of the box. A debatable call, as there were still two HSV defenders in range to stop the Japanese from scoring, but it meant that the guests had no measures to put BVB under pressure from that moment on.
Hamburg were forced to finish the final 12 minutes with only nine players on the pitch as Albin Ekdal picked up an injury after HSV coach Bruno Labbadia had already made three substitutions.
In the end, the comfortable win was just what the doctor ordered after Thursday's collapse at Anfield.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 5 -- Was only asked to make two routine saves in 90 minutes.
DF Felix Passlack, 7 -- The 17-year-old earned his first start in the Westfalenstadion. He started as left-back with the orders to prevent counter-attacks and was hardly seen beyond the halfway line. In the second half he was shifted to the right, assigned with a more offensive role and played higher up the field.
It's seems to be the standard for youth players to be this eclectic and gives a nice outlook on what is to come from future generations. For Sunday, Passlack can be extremely excited that he showed a mature performance over 90 minutes in every position he was used in.
DF Mats Hummels, 9 -- The team captain made the intervention of the game to save Sven Bender from humiliation. Hummels blocked Schipplock's pass to Lewis Holtby in the box in a two-against-one situation. Bender's giveaway would have been a certain goal otherwise. It was the key moment in a dominant performance, rounded off by a nice little nudge on the ball to assist Pulisic for his goal.
DF Sven Bender, 5 -- His horrible giveaway almost led to an entirely different game. Apart from that Bender was defensively sound.
DF Matthias Ginter, 5 -- He was also switched from left to right by Tuchel throughout the match and had 16 out of 17 successful throw-ins, as far as useless stats go.
MF Nuri Sahin, 4 -- Again, Sahin did not look up to the speed of a Bundesliga match. Especially in the first half the midfielder was easily dispossessed by Hamburg's midfield.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 5 -- A lot of talk about Gundogan's future surrounded the match, as his departure seems imminent. At present, he got 65 minutes to pick up some match practise ahead of Wednesday's cup semifinal, but was one of the culprits for BVB's sloppiness in the first half.
MF Gonzalo Castro, 6 -- For effort.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 7 -- He was Dortmund's go-to-guy in the centre and was the instigator in BVB's offensive transition play. A solid performance, but lacking a bit of end-product to score top marks.
MF Christian Pulisic, 9 -- Pulisic introduced the "Dab" dance to the Bundesliga after scoring his very first goal for the club, making him the fourth youngest goalscorer in Germany's top flight -- the category is still led by teammatei Sahin. It was Pulisic's first home start and the first time he played the full 90 minutes. But his cracking goal, that served as a can opener for his team, wasn't the only highlight of his performance, as he was a handful for Hamburg's defense all game long.
FW Adrian Ramos, -- 8 "It was tough for him at the beginning to hold on to the ball against Hamburg's aggressive defending", Tuchel commented on Ramos' performance after the game. "But he scored two goals and delivered when asked to in the end." Ramos showed a great piece of individual skill to score his first goal, curling the ball into the far corner after two step-overs.
MF Moritz Leitner, 7 -- Leitner replaced Gundogan after 65th minute. The guests were already decimated and down by two goals. Hence Leitner found it easy to shine as the game was long decided. A nice backheel for Kagawa was one of the highlights for the match.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, NR -- Replaced Castro for a 15 minute run out.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, NR -- Came on the field along Aubameyang on the field for Ginter, as the game petered out.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.