On Sunday it was the anniversary of Erling Haaland’s start at Borussia Dortmund. On January 3, 2020, the training center in Dortmund-Brackel only checked how quickly lactic acid forms in the Norwegian’s muscles under exertion (technical term: lactate test). On Sunday, a year later, it was eager to see if the 20-year-old would be able to help at short notice after his injury break to end a result misery that had recently cost the club several places in the table and their coach Lucien Favre the job (technical term : Crisis). Haaland had missed seven competitive games during this phase due to a hamstring tear.
Although Erling Haaland did not score a goal against VfL Wolfsburg, his presence apparently helped to motivate the Dortmund team, who had been unsettled in the weeks before, to win. The patience marked 2-0 (0-0) success through a header from defender Manuel Akanji (66th) and a perfectly formed counterattack by Jadon Sancho in stoppage time meant the first win in their own stadium after three Bundesliga home defeats in a row promoted Dortmund in the table past Wolfsburg to the fourth place that is at least required for Champions League qualification. “We are completely satisfied,” said coach Edin Terzic after the game, “because it was a very difficult task.” In view of the weak phases in play, he particularly praised the effort and body language of his players.
Haaland had scored 33 goals in 32 competitive games since he started in Dortmund a year ago, and this season alone 17 goals in 14 competitive games before a muscle fiber tore in his hip flexor at the beginning of December. Since then Dortmund has won one game each per competition in St. Petersburg, Bremen and Braunschweig, but the more painful for the battered self-esteem were the two Bundesliga defeats at home against VfB Stuttgart (1: 5) and at Union Berlin (1: 2) to book. The disgrace against the Swabians had even cost Favre his job, so that Haaland was now acting under the exclusive command of the trainer Terzic for the first time.
The 38-year-old Sauerland native used the healing of Haaland’s muscles at his personal home premiere as head coach to call the Norwegian directly into the starting line-up. This also seemed appropriate insofar as the 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko was unable to participate due to knee problems. But Haaland immediately felt a bit that the BVB game had lost its self-confidence in the past few weeks. The striker initially felt like a violinist in a wind orchestra – he barely got a ball.
“In the first half we were too far apart to put pressure on the ball,” said Terzic after the game. Haaland also suffered from this. Its first conclusion in the 28th minute was a harmless long-range shot. Five minutes later, a long ball reached him for the first time from below, but he missed this chance. “Erling wins us space, depth and time,” says Terzic about the fundamental relevance of the young Norwegian for the Dortmund game, but almost none of these three factors arose in the first half. But that was also because the Wolfsburg pressed very high. They even had better chances in the first section thanks to Xaver Schlager (5th), Yannick Gerhardt (6th) and Wout Weghorst (41st).
It was only shortly before the break that Borussia became a bit more compelling. Terzic acted noticeably on the sidelines as an extroverted driver, called a lot, applauded successful ball conquests, clenched his fists on occasion. In the 53rd minute, however, he found the first big chance for Haaland to tear his hair down. Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels parried it after a through pass from Raphael Guerreiro. Haaland slowly warmed up.
But before the fruitful phase of this warming would no longer experience the final whistle, the always helpful central defender Manuel Akanji wanted to play it safe. In the 66th minute he headed a corner from Jadon Sancho to 1-0 lead. The Dortmund team is by no means ashamed of hits after dormant balls, it was their ninth standard goal. For Sancho, the 2-0 in the second minute of stoppage time was actually the first Bundesliga goal of the season. Another Dortmund who was inspired by the Haaland comeback.