Borussia Dortmund vs. Ingolstadt: Winners and Losers from Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund left it late but beat FC Ingolstadt 2-0 in their first game at home after the winter break on Matchday 19 of the 2015/16 Bundesliga season.
It was the expected, difficult game for Black and Yellows against the Schanzer, who came into the game tied for the second-best defensive record in the league.
Dortmund's problems intensified before kick-off, as Thomas Tuchel had to make do without Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan, both of whom picked up a flu in midweek. Adrian Ramos got his first start of the season in Reus' absence, while Matthias Ginter replaced Gundogan in central midfield.
Ingolstadt head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl selected a positive-looking side, with Max Christiansen starting in place of the suspended Pascal Gross and winter signing Dario Lezcano making his full debut for the Bavarians up front.
Gusting winds and pouring rain probably aided the visitors' cause, as both teams struggled to hold on to the ball for any extended amount of time for much of the game.
The game didn't see many goalscoring opportunities for either side, and a goalless draw looked somewhat inevitable until Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored out of the proverbial nowhere in the 77th minute.
The Gabonese added a second four minutes from time and effectively killed the game.
With the win and Hertha BSC's simultaneous 3-3 draw at Werder Bremen, Dortmund now hold a 10-point advantage over third place. Ingolstadt, meanwhile, remain 10th and will have been happy to learn that all the other teams in the battle against relegation in action on Saturday lost their games as well.
Here, B/R picks the winners and losers from the game.
Winner: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
There's only one place to start. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's two goals were the reason Dortmund won the game.
The Gabonese looked well on his way to a third straight Bundesliga game without a goal, but two goals in the final quarter of an hour saw him end that mini-slump and up his tally to an impressive 20 goals after 19 matchdays.
He's now scored one more goal than Eintracht Frankfurt's Alexander Meier—last season's leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga—managed all campaign.
As stat provider deltatre tweeted (link in German), Africa's Footballer of the Year 2015 has found the net in 10 straight home matches dating back to last season.
Loser: Guido Winkmann
If Aubameyang won the game for Dortmund, Ingolstadt will feel referee Guido Winkmann lost it for the visitors.
The 42-year-old and his crew got two of the three big decisions on the day wrong.
In the 29th minute, Ingolstadt's Dario Lezcano broke through Dortmund's central defence and would've had a shot on an open goal, since goalkeeper Roman Burki rushed out but missed the ball. The Paraguay international surely would've scored if not for an intervention from BVB captain Mats Hummels.
However, one of the replays clearly showed that Hummels pulled Lezcano down. It should've been a penalty and a red card for the skipper.
Hummels was also at the centre of another incident, where he appeared to score one of the most bizarre own goals you'll ever see, but Winkmann blew the play dead because Lezcano had fouled Hummels. The contact was ever so slight, but noticeable, and it was probably a good call.
Dortmund's first goal, however, was not a good call.
As coach and TV pundit Stevie Grieve tweeted, it was "the grey area of 'offside,'" where only the striker's body was in an offside position.
What got Ingolstadt so agitated was the fact that the replay displayed inside the stadium showed the incident. Everyone knew it was a bad call, but the referee can't take it back based on a replay.
Both coaches said in the postgame press conference that they'd welcome technological means to eradicate human errors in football, but that will be little consolation for Saturday's visitors, who have every right to feel hard done by.
Winners: Dortmund's Substitutes
Dortmund made a double change after 55 minutes, with Moritz Leitner and Gonzalo Castro replacing Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa, both of whom disappointed on the day.
The team immediately looked more lively and started to at least create something.
Incredibly, the game was blown open later on, when 17-year-old Christian Pulisic made his senior debut in the 70th minute. The U.S. youth international hardly put a foot wrong, looked quicker than almost every other player on the pitch and seemed to ignite his team-mates with his smooth touches of the ball.
It's not at all a coincidence that both of Dortmund's goals came after these three had entered the pitch.
Leitner, who made his first appearance in the Bundesliga all season, passed to Castro, who brilliantly found Aubameyang with a cutting pass through a tiny window, but he wouldn't even have had that window if Pulisic hadn't made an intelligent run to tie up two players.
Going forward, it's going to be difficult to put the brakes on the hype surrounding the 17-year-old, who genuinely looked like a difference-maker in his first outing at the senior level. As SI.com's Liviu Bird tweeted, Pulisic has the potential to be the U.S.' first "truly world-class player."
Loser: Thomas Tuchel
Praise is definitely in order for his tweaks in the second half, but the downside to that is that Thomas Tuchel got his initial plan wrong.
He told German broadcaster Sky before the game that he didn't expect Ingolstadt to play their usual aggressive, high-pressing style of football. When the visitors did just that, it looked like Tuchel's side wasn't ready to adapt.
In hindsight, the 42-year-old would probably agree that it would've been a better idea to replace Ilkay Gundogan with at least a somewhat similar player in Leitner or Castro. The defensive-minded double pivot of Julian Weigl and Ginter, at any rate, was not the answer.
After the game, Tuchel lauded his side for the patience they showed, saying, per local paper Ruhr Nachrichten on Twitter (link in German), that discontent over the difficult match didn't turn into frustration.
While that is true, the fact remains that the victory flattered Dortmund and that some of Tuchel's decisions—Adrian Ramos was very poor, too—made the game more difficult than it should've been.
Winner: Ralph Hasenhuttl
It might seem odd to list Tuchel as a loser and Ralph Hasenhuttl as a winner, but unlike his opponent on the touchline, Ingolstadt's Austrian coach got his tactics spot on.
He took a severely outgunned team to Germany's biggest stage, the Westfalenstadion, and probably was two bad refereeing decisions away from leaving with at least a point.
As Dustin Ward of StatsBomb.com pointed out on Twitter during the game, Ingolstadt held Dortmund to just five completed passes within 25 yards of the goal in the first half. Even with the Black and Yellows missing Gundogan and Reus, that's mightily impressive.
The Austrian also delivered one of the better quotes of the season so far, saying after the game, per Ruhr Nachrichten on Twitter, that his side would've gone home with at least a point if the referee was half as brave as his men were on the day.