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.
Unbeaten Freiburg held Leipzig to 1-1 in its first Bundesliga game in its new stadium, Union Berlin defeated Wolfsburg 2-0 at home, and city rival Hertha Berlin claimed a surprise 2-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
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.