BERLIN, Germany, Apr 8 – Christian Pulisic’s goal kick-started Borussia Dortmund in a 3-0 victory over Stuttgart on Sunday, ahead of next week’s mouth-watering derby at Schalke.
Dortmund’s home win leaves them just one point behind arch-rivals Schalke, who are second in the Bundesliga table despite Saturday’s shock 3-2 defeat at Hamburg, ahead of next Sunday’s Ruhr derby in Gelsenkirchen.
Pulisic, a fully-fledged US international at just 19, gave Dortmund the lead against mid-table Stuttgart at a sun-soaked Signal Iduna Park.
His cross dipped over Stuttgart goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler to crash in off the post on 38 minutes.
“I actually wanted to hit the far post — which I sort of did — it wasn’t so wrong in the end,” joked Pulisic.
His fortuitous effort was the highlight of a below-par performance from Peter Stoeger’s Dortmund who were lucky to lead at the break.
It was a totally different story after half-time as the hosts took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi, on loan from Chelsea until the end of the season, made it 2-0 just three minutes into the second half as Dortmund flew out of the blocks.
Batshuayi delicately flicked the ball into the path of Nuri Sahin, who returned the pass to the Belgian in the box for a simple tap-in from close range to leave Stuttgart on the ropes.
Dortmund finished the visitors off when Pulisic headed back to Maximilian Philipp, whose first effort was parried by Zieler, but the winger tucked home the rebound with an hour played.
It was Philipp’s first goal since November, when he also scored in a 2-1 defeat at Stuttgart.
Batshuayi, who has now scored seven goals in nine league games since arriving in January, could have added another soon after when he fired wide.
Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez threatened the Dortmund goal when he clipped the crossbar five minutes before the final whistle.
Dortmund’s win sets them up nicely for the derby.
They want to avenge their 4-4 draw at home to Schalke, who scored four goals without reply, last November.
A win in Gelsenkirchen would boost Dortmund’s goals for the rest of the season.
“We want to qualify for the Champions League and if possible finish second,” said Sahin.
On Saturday, Bayern Munich were confirmed as Bundesliga champions for the sixth straight year as their 4-1 win at Augsburg left them 20 points clear with only five games left.