BERLIN: Gio Reyna again came off the bench to score a late winner for Borussia Dortmund, securing a 2-1 victory at Mainz in the Bundesliga on Wednesday.
Reyna also scored Dortmund’s late winner in a 4-3 win against Augsburg on Sunday, and repeated the feat in Mainz after coming on with just under half an hour remaining.
Fellow substitute Sebastien Haller headed on a free kick for Reyna to sweep home in the third minute of injury time. The American ran toward the corner flag pointing to the sky with his right index finger. After celebrating with teammates, he faced fans with his fists to his ears, as if showing he’s blocking out the fallout from his family’s dispute with former US coach Gregg Berhalter that has led to turmoil at the US Soccer Federation.
Reyna’s goal, his fourth of the season, keeps Dortmund’s winning start to 2023 intact and moves the team five points behind league leader Bayern Munich, who have two draws since returning from the winter break.
“We’re happy to come out of the starting blocks like that into the new year,” Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said. “We know we have a lot of work in front of us.”
It wasn’t pretty or convincing, and Dortmund had to rely on luck at times.
“We have to believe we can win a game in the 90th minute,” said Julian Brandt, who delivered the free kick before the goal. ”It’s something to build on, that at some point we’ll play the beautiful football that’s dormant within us.”
Emre Can started in place of the suspended Jude Bellingham, while Niklas Süle came in for Mats Hummels, who dropped to the bench. Julian Ryerson started at right back again for the second game since his transfer from Union Berlin.
Lee Jae-Sung got Mainz off to a great start in the second minute with a header to a corner. Ryerson had allowed the South Korea midfielder too much space, but he atoned two minutes later with the equalizer after seeing his shot from distance take a deflection.
Dortmund had a couple of good chances early on but that was it as each team canceled out the other in midfield.
Terzic reacted in the 62nd by bringing on three forward — Haller, Reyna and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens — at once. Haller was making his second appearance after treatment for testicular cancer.
“People always talk about his tumor and not the fact he makes us better,” Brandt said of the Ivory Coast striker’s first assist for Dortmund.
Union Berlin came from behind to beat Werder Bremen 2-1 away and move second, just three points behind Bayern, thanks to goals in each half from Janik Haberer and Kevin Behrens. New signing Josip Juranovic delivered the corner for Behrens to head in the winner.
Union coach Urs Fischer started with the Bremen-born Behrens rather than Jordan Pefok, but brought the American on for the final 15 minutes as the club completed its best opening half to the season by far with 33 points from 17 games.
Union, who were only promoted in 2019, next visit Hertha Berlin for the derby.
Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt drew 1-1, with Freiburg’s Matthias Ginter canceling out the in-form Randal Kolo Muani’s first-half strike for the visitors.
Bayer Leverkusen defeated Bochum 2-0 to leave the visitors in the relegation zone and Mergim Berisha’s late goal was enough for Augsburg to beat visiting Borussia Monchengladbach 1-0.