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Dortmund continues to relish its role asgiant killer

Updated: 2014-04-14 07:14
By Reuters in Berlin ( China Daily)

Borussia Dortmund reclaimed some of the Bundesliga's bragging rights after crushing champion Bayern Munich 3-0 on Saturday with a stellar performance to claim victory in the league's showcase encounter.

Just three days after it beat Real Madrid 2-0 but was eliminated in the Champions League quarterfinals 3-2 on aggregate, Dortmund confirmed its battling spirit by inflicting the heaviest defeat in coach Pep Guardiola's career.

For the Bavarians, already crowned German champions, the defeat was their second in a row in the league after a record 53-game unbeaten run in former Barcelona coach Guardiola's first season in charge.

Bayern also had Brazilian Rafinha sent off for slapping Henrikh Mkhitaryan in stoppage time.

"This has been an extraordinary week with wins over Real and Bayern and we did it in a fantastic way," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said.

"Maybe our opponents were lacking a percentage or two because they are already champions.

"We wanted to do a lot and we did most of the things we set out to do. It was extremely hard work."

The visitors took a 21st-minute lead when Mkhitaryan slotted home after some good play, the Armenian making up for a string of missed chances in the defeat against Real.

The midfielder, who apologized to teammates and fans for his midweek lapses, kept his cool after Marco Reus sent him through with a fine pass.

Bayern, which faces Real in the Champions League last four, was further hampered when goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was taken off at halftime with a calf injury, making way for third-stringer Lukas Raeder.

The 20-year-old's league debut got off to a nightmare start after 49 minutes when Mkhitaryan launched a quick break and Reus tapped in with the keeper out of position.

Raeder could do nothing, however, when Jonas Hofmann broke free after a deep 60-meter cross from Sokratis Papastathopoulos to rifle in Dortmund's third in the 56th minute as the 71,000-crowd in the Allianz Arena fell silent.

Bayern tried desperately to hit back but they rarely got past a solid Dortmund defense and was reduced to long-range efforts which sailed wide.

"The title has been decided and we cut back a bit," said Guardiola.

"I think it is a problem that we won the league. My goal as a coach is to build my team up again.

"Maybe I even made a mistake by saying that the title race was finished."

With the title sewn up and in the Champions League last four, Bayern faces second division Kaiserslautern in the semifinals of the German Cup next week and is still on track to repeat its unprecedented trophy treble of last season.

(China Daily 04/14/2014 page23)