Pulisic, Schurrle struggle; Dortmund scrape into UCL despite loss
Borussia Dortmund dragged themselves over the finish line with a 3-1 loss at Hoffenheim. The result means BVB concede third place to Julian Nagelsmann's men on goal difference, but at least Bayer Leverkusen did not overcome a seven-goal deficit in goal difference to claim the final Champions League place.
Dortmund have qualified for the Champions League, which is all that matters after a difficult season that saw two coaching changes. Participation in Europe's most illustrious competition is vital in terms of sustainability and growth and the Black and Yellows can plan their rebuild with a new coach, following Peter Stoger's confirmation that he will not continue.
Overall, Dortmund were not as poor as a 3-1 scoreline would suggest but individual mistakes and comical defending was their downfall once again.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- Stoger may have picked the correct formation by fielding a 5-2-3, but he picked the wrong players to execute it.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 2 -- The keeper has mostly been a stronghold in the Bundesliga for Dortmund but showed his "Champions League face" when mishandling a back pass and cleared the ball only as far as Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric.
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 5 -- Had a busy afternoon as Hoffenheim targeted the space behind Christian Pulisic on Dortmund's right side, which meant more work for the veteran right-back.
DF Manuel Akanji, 5 -- Overall, a decent performance but there was one poor first-half pass, when he squared the ball in his own box. Fortunately, there was no opponent to pounce.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 4 -- The captain was ball-watcher-in-chief when Adam Szalai waltzed into the box to lob the ball over Burki to make it 2-1. This loss wasn't just on Schmelzer, though; it was a team effort.
MF Raphael Guerreiro, 5 -- It was his first league start since the reverse fixture in December. The 24-year-old showed his tremendous technical skill and was at the end of a promising scoring chance in the first half but also showed his questionable defensive prowess.
MF Nuri Sahin, 6 -- Whenever Dortmund enjoyed long spells of possession, Sahin was useful. Arguably, though, Stoger could have used a ball-winner like Gotze in midfield.
MF Julian Weigl, 5 -- What holds true for Sahin is the same for Weigl. In possession, the duo looked comfortable whenever Dortmund tried to keep the ball. But they both lacked urgency to really mount pressure on the hosts.
MF Christian Pulisic, 4 -- Pulisic's form has been deteriorating toward the end of the season and he did not manage to close out the campaign on a high, as he struggled mightily to beat Nico Schulz.
FW Jadon Sancho, 5 -- The young Englishman was close to winning the game by himself in the first 15 minutes, when he managed to skip past opponents. He could not sustain his rampant start, though.
FW Andre Schurrle, 3 -- Missed a glaring one-on-one situation against goalkeeper Oliver Baumann in the 33rd minute and, otherwise, struggled to pick out the correct pass from a central position.
FW Marco Reus, 4 -- Scored Dortmund's only goal of the day and his first touch to instigate the combination with Guerreiro was pure class, even if a lot of luck was involved in his finish.
MF Shinji Kagawa, NR -- Brought on for the final 15 minutes just after Dortmund conceded a third goal. Kagawa helped his team to dominate the final phase of the match and develop some attacking momentum.
GK Roman Weidenfeller, NR -- The veteran goalkeeper got an honorary substitution in the final minute of stoppage time.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.