Match-winner Batshuayi a perfect 10 off Dortmund bench; Pulisic an 8
DORTMUND, Germany -- The Westfalenstadion saw a dramatic finale on Sunday night between Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt with each team scoring stoppage-time goals, but the hosts finding the most important one in a 3-2 win.
Dortmund thought they had thrown a narrow lead away as Danny Blum's equaliser made it 2-2 in the first minute of stoppage time. Substitute Michy Batshuayi, however, had the last word, drilling the ball past Lukas Hradecky in a world-class move two minutes later to send the Yellow Wall into ecstasy.
The victory was a big one over a direct competitor for the Champions League spots. Dortmund remain in third-place -- one point behind second-placed Schalke and one ahead of fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
Peter Stoger reshuffled the starting lineup, as Christian Pulisic, Lukasz Piszczek, Manuel Akanji and Maximilian Philipp came in for Batshuayi, Mario Gotze, Julian Weigl and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The fresh legs did the hosts a world of good not only because Dortmund looked less lethargic than in Thursday's defeat to Salzburg but also showed new elements in their game. Niko Kovac's side went up against a different team than the one they had watched on tape throughout the week. Especially Pulisic looked far improved as he forced Frankfurt defender Marco Russ to put the ball into his own net in the first half and linked up with Batshuayi to grab an assist in the second period.
As has often been the case this season, Dortmund's form abated with the kick off of the second period. The introduction of Weigl for Mahmoud Dahoud, who was close to a second booking did not help. Kevin-Prince Boateng's impact quadrupled for the Eagles as Weigl could not show the same solidity in midfield. As the visitor's made less unforced errors near their own goal, Dortmund started to struggle to build attacks and keep their opponents away from Roman Burki's net. Frankfurt's equaliser in the 75th minute came to the surprise of exactly no one. BVB, however, responded well by going ahead just two minutes later.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Kovac realised in the second half that an additional midfielder would cause Dortmund even more problems, as he brought on Jonathan de Guzman for forward Ante Rebic at half-time and later Lukas Juvic for striker Sebastian Haller. Stoger did not find a fitting response and thus allowed the visitors to get a deserved equaliser twice.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 6 -- Had to make his first real save shortly after the break as he quickly dove to parry a Boateng backheel at the near post. Overall, an assured performance.
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 5 -- Was caught snoozing as Blum whizzed past him to score the equaliser in the first minute of stoppage time.
DF Manuel Akanji, 6 -- Got himself booked for a terribly timed challenge in the first half, but kept a cool head throughout the rest of the game.
DF Omer Toprak, 6 -- A much-needed improvement over Thursday's performance in which the centre-back gave away a penalty. Looked more assured with Akanji by his side again.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 5 -- Most of Frankfurt's attacks came through his side.
DF Gonzalo Castro, 6 -- In the first half, Castro linked up well with Dahoud but struggled in the second half as Kovac won the tactical battle in midfield.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, 6 -- Was easily one of the best players in the first half. He anticipated well and found productive solutions after gaining possession. His through ball to Pulisic set up the opener. However, the 22-year-old is also a hot head and Stoger was forced to take him off.
MF Maximilian Philipp, 6 -- Started out almost in central midfield but moved up front as the game went on. Philipp's intensity and ability to win the ball helped BVB to keep Frankfurt far away from their own goal.
MF Marco Reus, 7 -- If it weren't for Russ, he would have scored the opener again. Whenever Dortmund were lethal on the transition, Reus wasn't far. The importance of his contract extension until 2023 was visible in almost every moment.
MF Christian Pulisic, 8 -- After starting four consecutive games on the bench, he looked and played like a man refreshed. The U.S. international forced an own goal and set up Batshuayi for the 2-2 equaliser while running rings around his countryman Timothy Chandler.
FW Andre Schurrle, 5 -- Had all the right ideas but all the wrong execution. A combination of fortune and power of will saw Schurrle make a vital run down the left flank at the death of the game, instigating the play that led to the winner.
MF Julian Weigl, 3 -- Replaced Dahoud at half-time. Weigl against Boateng was an utter mismatch in midfield and Dortmund lost control in the second half because of that. The 22-year-old was also the second winner against Jovic, who headed home a free kick in the 75th minute. All in all, another poor performance by Weigl.
FW Michy Batshuayi 10 -- Felt the strain of recent weeks and only started off the bench. In the last half hour of the game, the Chelsea loanee became the match-winner, scoring twice with high technical skill. Especially his second goal, where his first touch set up his side volley on the turn was a beauty to behold and the essence of clutch.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, NR -- Came on for the final five minutes as Stoger switched to a back-five in order to sit on the narrow 2-1 lead. As the turn of events showed, it did not add much defensive solidity, but rather gave the away team a chance to build pressure.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.