Captain Marco Reus played through pain to inspire Borussia Dortmund to a 4-0 win over Freiburg on Sunday and keep them on the heels of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.
Reus took a knock to his knee in a heavy challenge from Freiburg’s Janik Haberer in the second half, but fired Dortmund to victory with a goal and two assists to keep them a point behind Bayern.
After a heavy defeat to Bayern two weeks ago and a nervy win over Mainz last Sunday, Reus insisted the display showed that his team were back to their best and ready to take the fight to Bayern in the title race.
“The last few weeks didn’t quite go as we had hoped, but it was important that we stuck together in the difficult moments,” the Dortmund captain told Sky.
“We still believe we can be champions and we want to keep the pressure on Bayern until the very end.”
Dortmund needed three points on Sunday after Bayern beat Werder Bremen 1-0 on Saturday.
Far from buckling in a nail-biting title race, Dortmund delivered one of their most confident recent performances.
A silky move in the box saw Dortmund take the lead after 12 minutes, with Raphael Guerreiro and Marco Reus linking to provide Jadon Sancho with a tap-in.
Guerreiro, returning to action after two weeks out injured, then set up Reus for Dortmund’s second eight minutes after half-time.
Lucien Favre’s side survived a handful of Freiburg chances before a brutal counter-attack saw Reus set up Mario Goetze to make it 3-0.
Paco Alcacer completed a perfect afternoon for Dortmund, converting a late penalty after a Pascal Stenzel handball.
Dortmund face local rivals Schalke in the Ruhr derby next Saturday, before Bayern travel to take on Nuremberg the following day.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Hanover slipped further towards relegation despite holding Hertha Berlin to a 0-0 draw away from home.
Davie Selke and Ondrej Duda both missed golden opportunities to win the game for Hertha, who nonetheless broke a five-game losing streak.
Waldemar Anton and Florent Muslija came close for Hanover, but Thomas Doll’s side remain rooted to the bottom of the table, six points adrift of the relegation play-off place.
“A point is too little. We could have got more from the game today because Hertha were not at their best,” said Hanover coach Doll, who nonetheless praised his team’s mentality.
“The lads are showing on the pitch that they want to fight, and we have managed to create a good atmosphere around the team. The fans aren’t booing us.”
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