A hat-trick from Niclas Fuellkrug powered Borussia Dortmund to a 3-1 win over Bochum on Sunday, sending the home side into the top four of the Bundesliga.
Fuellkrug opened the scoring from the spot just six minutes in but Bochum equalised late in the first half thanks to an own goal from Dortmund defender Nico Schlotterbeck.
Fuellkrug headed Dortmund back into the lead midway through the second period, before adding another from the spot in injury time.
Dortmund, who started 2024 six points off the Champions League places, have now leapfrogged RB Leipzig into the top four. Dortmund are just one point behind third-placed Stuttgart.
“In the first half of the season we lost our consistency a little bit, so it’s been good to chalk up some results,” Fuellkrug told DAZN.
“We wanted to keep a clean sheet but unfortunately conceded a goal that we scored ourselves.
“We’re just happy that we can get some self-confidence back with these results.”
Fuellkrug gave Dortmund the best possible start, converting an early penalty after Bochum goalkeeper Manuel Riemann fouled Donyell Malen in the box.
Unconvincing but in control, Dortmund allowed Bochum back into the game, Schlotterbeck scoring a comical own goal to level the scores.
With Dortmund ‘keeper Alex Meyer waiting to collect a harmless Bochum cross, Schlotterbeck slid to block the ball, directing it into his own net.
“We needed to come out after half-time and drag the game back into our control,” said Dortmund midfielder Marcel Sabitzer.
“Ultimately we deserved to win, but we worked hard for it.”
Teenage striker Youssoufa Moukoko went close to scoring twice but it was Fuellkrug who put Dortmund back in front, heading in a cross after some excellent work from English winger Jamie Bynoe-Gittens.
Bynoe-Gittens then won a late penalty, which Fuellkrug converted for his third Bundesliga hat-trick.
– Union coach –
Marie Louise-Eta, a female member of the coaching staff at Union Berlin, played a new role as the team claimed a 1-0 home win over rock-bottom Darmstadt, lifting them five points clear of the relegation play-off place.
Union played with head coach Nenad Bjelica watching from the stands due to a three-match suspension for pushing Leroy Sane in the face during Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich.
Eta was in the dug-out working alongside interim coach Danijel Jumic, and took charge of pre-game and post-match media duties in place of Bjelica.
Benedict Hollerbach made the difference for the home side, controlling an Andras Schaefer pass and shooting through the legs of ‘keeper Marcel Schuhen to open the scoring after 62 minutes.
“We had plenty of chances but weren’t that efficient,” Hollerbach told DAZN. “But at the end of the day it was definitely deserved, we were dominant.”
Union have taken 10 points from their past six games to create a gap between themselves and the bottom three.
Despite the win, more worries may be on the horizon in the German capital.
Before the match, sporting director Oliver Ruhnert refused to guarantee Bjelica would return to the dugout due to his altercation with Sane, saying Union were “very unhappy with the action and did not agree with it in any way”.
Bjelica has only been in the job since November, when he replaced Urs Fischer.
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