The pressure on Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz increased after his side fell to a third consecutive defeat against mid-table Stuttgart. Roman Bürki gifted the opening goal to Chadrac Akolo after five minutes, but Dortmund drew level on the brink of half-time when Ron-Robert Zieler could only parry Andre Schürrle’s penalty in to the path of Maximilian Philipp. Josip Brekalo then scored what proved to be the final goal shortly after the break.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, or the absence thereof, dominated the build-up to the match at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. The Gabonese striker declared himself ‘baffled’ after being suspended by Dortmund for arriving late to training.
It was clear from the start that Dortmund missed the presence of their leading goalscorer. The away side began nervously, and with five minutes on the clock Marc Barta and Roman Bürki commenced a defensive omnishambles. Bartra hit a firm - possibly too firm – back-pass to his ‘keeper, whose heavy touch took the ball straight in to the path of Akolo, who dribbled the ball in to an unguarded net.
Bosz’ side, who have a slim chance of qualification from the Champions League group they share with Real Madrid and Tottenham, slowly grew in to the match but lacked the incision that Aubameyang usually provides.
On the brink of half-time, they got their lucky break. 21-year-old Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard, who recently received made his international debut for France, was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. Penalty. Schürrle stood over the ball, exhaled, and shot to the ‘keeper’s left. Zieler anticipated well and parried the ball. But he was helpless to prevent Philipp drilling the rebound in to the roof of the net.
Akolo was forced off at half-time, with Josip Brekalo taking his place in attack. It turned out to be a goalscorer-for-goalscorer substitution, as Brekalo cut inside on his left foot and fired an effort through the flimsy Bürki.
Stuttgart maintained their lead. Argentine midfielder Santiago Ascaciber was a mobile destruction unit in the centre of the park. They could have added more goals. Berkay Ozcan and Brekalo both wasted clear chances. Dortmund threatened from the wings, but struggled to convert their chances without Aubameyang in the side.
Ascacibar dropped to his knees as the full-time whistle blew and pumped his fists. The victory lifts Stuttgart to eleventh place in the Bundesliga, just two points off the European places. While Stuttgart look up, Dortmund failed to allay their slide. This was their fourth defeat in five matches. Peter Bosz is well and truly under the cosh.