The Bundesliga champions allowed their Dutch opponents to control to ball for 55 percent of the match, but Dortmund was significantly more aggressive when it had possession. The Germans took 23 shots and put seven on target, while Ajax shot just nine times, with only three requiring goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller to make a save.
The attacking advantage finally appeared as if it would pay off when Ricardo van Rhijn took down Mario Götze in the penalty area. As with most penalty kicks that are awarded, Ajax and its supporters were thoroughly displeased with the referee and certainly feel that justice was done when Mats Hummels failed to convert the opportunity.
Dortmund’s struggles in front of goal continued and the two teams seemed destined to walk away from the pitch with a point apiece.
But in the 87th minute, Lewandowski fought to win a cross from Lukasz Piszczek. He brought the ball down at the penalty spot, took a touch to move past Toby Alderweireld, and made no mistakes with his finish.
The Polish striker’s goal earned his side three points in what will be Dortmund’s easiest match of the entire group stage. If the team had failed to earn a victory against Ajax at home, there would have been little room for error going forward.
The Germans will travel to Manchester for their next match, and the remaining schedule includes two fixtures each against City and Madrid—two of Europe’s top clubs—and a rematch with Ajax in Amsterdam.
Had they failed to win this game, advancing past the group stage would have become nearly impossible. This was a must-win match for Dortmund, and although the result was in doubt until the end, the club earned the points they so desperately needed.