BERLIN (AP) — Erling Haaland scored twice on his return for Borussia Dortmund to beat Mainz 3-1 and move to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Haaland blasted a penalty straight down the middle in the 54th minute and sealed the result in injury time to move Dortmund two points clear of Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen ahead of their eighth-round game on Sunday.
Haaland missed Dortmund’s previous three games with what the club said were muscular problems. The team struggled in his absence with a loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach followed by narrow wins over Sporting Lisbon and Augsburg.
But it was captain Marco Reus who opened the scoring on Saturday, unleashing a brilliant shot with his left boot inside the top right corner in the third minute.
Dortmund went on to dominate the game with almost 80% possession in the first half alone.
Thomas Meunier fired narrowly wide after Haaland did well to hold up the ball, and the Norwegian was involved again before the break when he drew a good save from Mainz goalkeeper Robin Zentner. Haaland followed up and sent the ball back in toward goal, where Jude Bellingham’s effort was cleared off the line by Moussa Niakhaté.
Haaland used sheer force to score Dortmund’s second after Silvan Widmer was penalized through VAR for hand ball after the ball hit his elbow. Mainz coach Bo Svensson was booked for sarcastically applauding the decision to award the spot kick. Zentner got his hand to Haaland’s centrally placed shot but couldn’t keep out the shot.
Jonathan Burkardt’s 87th-minute goal prompted a late push from the visitors, but Bellingham won the ball off a defender and crossed for Haaland to seal the result with what was effectively the last play of the game. He has 13 goals in eight games this season.
Both Berlin teams won: Union defeated Wolfsburg 2-0 to stretch its unbeaten record at home in the Bundesliga to 21 games, and Hertha claimed a surprise 2-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Hertha is going through more upheaval following the abrupt resignation of CEO Carsten Schmidt for family reasons on Tuesday. The former SKY TV chief had been in the job less than a year.
Hertha had lost every game except for wins against the two promoted sides, so its fans were bracing for more disappointment in Frankfurt.
But Marco Richter’s light touch to Vladimir Darida’s cross sent the ball in off the right post in the seventh minute, and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp scored what proved to be the winner in the 63rd to ease the pressure on coach Pál Dárdai.
Union is up to fifth after its third consecutive league win.
Taiwo Awoniyi opened the scoring after halftime after some fine play from Genki Haraguchi and Max Kruse. Wolfsburg coach Mark van Bommel sent on Wout Weghorst and Ridle Baku to boost his team’s attacking threat, and Sheraldo Becker sealed the win in the 83rd.
FREIBURG STAYS UNBEATEN
Modest Freiburg remains the only unbeaten team after holding Leipzig to 1-1 in its first Bundesliga game at its new stadium.
Jeong Woo-yeong canceled Emil Forsberg’s penalty for Leipzig.
Anthony Losilla’s late goal was enough for Bochum to win at Greuther Fürth 1-0 in the duel between promoted sides.
Gladbach hosted coronavirus-hit Stuttgart in the late game.
Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP