Dortmund beats Augsburg 3-1 to keep pace with Bayern Munich
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund overcame the absence of top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and defeated Augsburg 3-1 away Sunday to keep pace with Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich.
Aubameyang was excused from duty due to the death of his grandfather in midweek and Colombian striker Adrian Ramos deputized with a goal and an assist as Dortmund came from behind for its 20th win of the campaign.
The home side had the first chance early on when Caiuby called Roman Buerki into action.
But Dortmund paid no heed to the warning as Caiuby crossed for Alfred Finnbogason to open the scoring in the 16th minute.
“We know what we can do. That’s why we stayed calm,” Buerki said.
Dortmund failed to threaten until five minutes before the interval, when a Marco Reus effort was deflected wide after a brilliant ball forward from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Mkhitaryan equalized before the break, playing the ball through a defender’s legs and then to Reus. Reus passed to Nuri Sahin, who laid it back for Mkhitaryan to scoop inside the right post and leave three Augsburg defenders trailing.
Dortmund was more proactive after the break and should have gone ahead before the hour, when Ramos missed after a good cross from Mkhitaryan.
But Ramos controlled Mats Hummels’ long kick-out with his chest and laid the ball back for half-time substitute Gonzalo Castro to score in the 69th. Castro had come on for the ineffective Reus.
Ramos sealed the win six minutes later, converting the rebound after Alexander Manninger produced a strong save to stop his initial header.
“You could see that the many games were taking their toll,” Castro said of Dortmund’s Europa League participation. “But we deserved to win.”
With seven rounds remaining after the international break, Dortmund stayed five points behind Bayern, which is seeking an unprecedented fourth successive title.
Only goal difference was keeping Augsburg out of the relegation zone above Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt. All three sides had 27 points.
Earlier, Julian Brandt led Bayer Leverkusen to a 2-0 win at Stuttgart, lifting it to sixth, two points off the last Champions League qualifying place.
Brandt opened the scoring in the 11th minute after Stefan Kiessling and Karim Bellarabi combined to carve apart the Stuttgart defense, and the 19-year-old led a counterattack, returning the favor for Bellarabi to seal the win four minutes after the break.
Brandt almost made it 3-0 in the 57th when he hit the post.
The visitors continued to profit from disarray in the Stuttgart defense. Vladlen Yurchenko struck the crossbar after good work from Bellarabi, then drew a good save from Stuttgart ’keeper Przemyslaw Tyton from the rebound.