With returnee Jadon Sancho providing support and an unadorned victory, Borussia Dortmund started its race to catch up in the Bundesliga. The runner-up won 3-0 (1-0) against bottom team SV Darmstadt 98.

The German national player Julian Brandt scored in front of 17,810 spectators on the sold-out Böllenfalltor in the 24th minute, Marco Reus made it 2-0 after an assist from Sancho (77th). Youssoufa Moukoko (90.2) brought the final point. After the last four games without a threesome, BVB celebrated another sense of achievement in a disjointed encounter at the start of the year.

The gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen and defending champions FC Bayern Munich is still 15 and 11 points respectively for coach Edin Terzic’s team. Newly promoted Darmstadt has now been without a win for ten games, but showed a courageous performance.

Can for sick Hummels in central defense

BVB started the game without Mats Hummels, who was ill. Emre Can played for him in central defense alongside Nico Schlotterbeck. On the left side of the defense, Ian Maatsen (most recently FC Chelsea) made a reliable debut, while Sancho – the loanee from Manchester United had no match practice for a long time – initially sat on the bench.

“He seemed very happy in the training sessions,” said Terzic in an interview with Sky before kick-off. “We didn’t sign him to play today, but to help us for the next six months.”

Brandt takes the lead after a counterattack

The Dortmund team started very carefully and let the lilies play along for the time being. The visitors’ lead came from a quick counterattack via Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, with Brandt firing a low shot into the far corner – his sixth goal of the season. Shortly before, the World Cup participant had failed due to preparatory work by Maadsen due to SVD keeper Marcel Schuhen.

For the still biting and courageous Darmstadt team, nothing more stood out before the break than a dangerous direct pass from Tim Skarke. The tireless relegation candidate regularly conquered sloppily played balls from the opponent.

“January can be our month,” BVB sports director Sebastian Kehl predicted. The new Terzic assistants Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender appeared on the sidelines every now and then to push their team forward. But too rarely did Dortmund really pick up the pace. And Brandt often got stuck somewhere in midfield.

Sancho makes his comeback in the 55th minute

After the break, referee Deniz Aytekin had to briefly interrupt the encounter: a fan ran onto the pitch and wanted to take a selfie with Niclas Füllkrug, but the national striker turned away and a steward led the young man off the pitch.

In the 55th minute, Sancho made his comeback as a joker, but he also quickly felt the hosts’ strength in duels. Almost ten minutes later, BVB almost conceded the equalizer: Luca Pfeiffer came completely free to head the ball from close range, goalkeeper Gregor Kobel blocked it with his foot. With a cross pass to Reus like in earlier times, Sancho then managed to assist on the goal. After a one-two with Marcel Sabitzer, Moukoko was also able to celebrate a goal shortly before the end.