Borussia Dortmund’s Axel Witsel celebrates scoring their first goal against FSV Mainz 05 at the MEWA Arena, Mainz March 16, 2022. — Reuters pic
MAINZ, March 17 — Axel Witsel volleyed home in the 87th minute to give Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 victory at Mainz 05 on Wednesday as they closed in to within four points of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.
In a rescheduled game, postponed 10 days ago due to a large number of Covid-19 cases in the Mainz team, Belgium midfielder Witsel volleyed in at the far post from a Gio Reyna free kick to keep the title race exciting.
Bayern are top on 60 points, with Dortmund now on 56 points in second place. Bayer Leverkusen are in third place on 45.
“We are all very happy,” Witsel said. “You cannot always play beautiful football. Sometimes you have to win that way as well and we did that today.”
Dortmund had been largely toothless in the game, with substitute Erling Haaland’s 67th-minute shot that was turned wide by keeper Robin Zentner their best chance, until Witsel broke the deadlock.
“We knew it would be very difficult in Mainz. It was especially hard in the first 25 minutes of the second half where we lacked possession,” Witsel said.
Mainz had won their previous five home games in the league. Prior to Wednesday’s game the hosts had let in just seven goals in their 12 home games this season.
But Witsel was left with too much space when Reyna floated a cross into the box and despite failing to connect properly with the ball, the midfielder volleyed in the winner.
Dortmund’s Julian Brandt missed a chance to double their lead deep in stoppage time when he fired narrowly wide. — Reuters