Borussia Dortmund won a two-goal victory at Wolfsburg to go one point behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga table.
Portuguese back Raphael Guerreiro scored his third goal in two games after the lockout to give Dortmund the lead in an uneventful first half in the empty Volkswagen Arena.
However, despite an improvement in the hosts after the break, Achraf Hakimi put the result beyond doubt 12 minutes from the end, notched in the corner after being fed by substitute Jadon Sancho.
Raphael Guerreiro (L) opened the scoring after Erling Haaland missed his free kick at the near post
Dortmund players celebrate their first game, which put them on the path of three points
Achraf Hakimi made it 2-0 12 minutes to narrow the gap at the top of the Bundesliga
WOLFSBURG 0-2 MATCH STATS BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Wolfsburg: Casteels, Mbabu, Pongracic, Brooks, Roussillon (Klaus 64), Steffen, Arnold, Schlager, Mehmedi (Victor 85), Ginczek (Brekalo 64), Weghorst
Substitutes not used: Pervan, Horn, Marmmoush, Knoche, Tisserand, Santos Sa, Justvan
Reservations: Brooks, Arnold
Red card: Klaus
Borussia Dortmund: Burki, Akanji, Hummels (Can 45), Piszczek, Hakimi, Delaney (Balerdi 83), Dahoud, Guerreiro (Schmelzer 83), Brandt (Sancho 65), Hazard (Reyna 79), Haaland
Substitutes not used: Götzi, Balerdi, Morey, Hitz, Rasch
Goals: Guerreiro 32, Hakimi 78
Reservations: Delaney, Hazard
The victory places Dortmund one point behind Bayern Munich, in front of the leaders who welcome Eintracht Frankfurt in the kickoff of Saturday evening and, subsequently, the enticing match of the first two Der Klassiker Tuesday evening.
An afternoon that began with a minute of silence, in an already silent stadium, for the victims of the coronavirus crisis also saw the crowd noise trial in the Volkswagen Arena.
But no mechanical decibel could explain the game’s quarter-final, which was decidedly lackluster.
Dortmund dominated the ball, but were curiously lackluster in the last third with Erling Haaland growing increasingly exasperated and isolated at the front.
We thank Wolfsburg at first, who was resilient and tenacious, embodying why they have the third best defensive record in the division.
However, what looked like a classic defense attack training drill broke out after half an hour, as Dortmund scored since their first unlock of the hosts behind.
Julian Brandt’s neat touch inside from the right caught three Wolfsburg players, and the space opened.
Hakimi played in Thorgan Hazard and after his retirement from the touchline was unusually missed by Haaland, Guerreiro’s bet paid off at the back post, hitting cooly in the empty net for his eighth goal of the season.
A minute of silence was held before the match for the victims of the coronavirus epidemic
Haaland was calm for most of the first half, Wolfsburg having frustrated Dortmund from the start.
No repetition of last week’s socially distant celebrations as Dortmund players nudge
Suddenly the hosts – who had not sniffed on their own turf – needed the half time and slipped in the interval just one down, after Hazard clearly sighted the goal off as Favre’s emboldened youth team threatened a second.
But after a strange substitution at half-time by Favre, with Emre Can replacing Mats Hummels in the back center, Wolfsburg should have been level three minutes after the start of the second half.
Renato Steffen – fit for goal with the suspiciously absent Can – blazed with his left foot when he discovered Roman Bürki. You suspected that the favorites would not have a better opportunity all afternoon.
Wolfsburg had his chances early in the second half but couldn’t capitalize to score
However, Wolfsburg continued to take center stage. Steffen, who scored last week, this time worked Burki from 25 meters, in connection with a gently struck volley, parried by the Swiss goalkeeper.
But Dortmund survived the attack and after English international Sancho was introduced in the 65th minute, its impact quickly put the game to bed.
Building on two exposed Wolfsburg defensemen, Sancho fed Hakimi to finish coolly in the corner after Koen Casteels.
Hakimi scored Dortmund’s second goal after being created by substitute Jadon Sancho
There was still time for the video assistant referee to get involved because a late challenge to Manuel Akanji by Felix Klaus of Wolfsburg resulted in a straight red for the midfielder.
But after a five-star performance against rivals Schalke, he was much more professional of Dortmund, although he did not reach the heights of last week. Even Haaland failed to score and was largely anonymous.
It may be a victory of the utmost importance, but the biggest challenge – or the greatest – comes in the title fight on Tuesday at the Westfalenstadion.