Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus struck an injury-time winner to clinch a 3-2 Bundesliga victory at Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Just when it seemed Dortmund’s title chances would take a serious knock in heavy rain, Jadon Sancho set up Reus to score in the 93rd minute.
“You don’t need this every week,” Reus said.”But it gives you security, the belief that we can always win.”
Dortmund reclaimed the lead by three points from Bayern Munich, which has a home game against Mainz on Sunday.
“I don’t think they’ll slip up tomorrow,” Reus said. “We knew we could increase the pressure. We’ll see what happens but the bottom line is that we have to look after ourselves.”
Hertha finished the game with nine men. Jordan Torunarigha was shown a second yellow card in the 85th minute and Vedad Ibisevic received a straight red in the sixth minute of injury time for throwing the ball at Roman Buerki after he felt the Dortmund goalkeeper was wasting time.
“That was a brilliant evening,” said Hertha coach Pal Dardai on his 43rd birthday. “We played a very good half, started badly after the break and conceded an unnecessary equalizer. We shook it off, though, and got better. In the end Dortmund deserved the win.”
Dortmund twice came from behind through Thomas Delaney and Dan-Axel Zagadou to cancel out two goals from Salomon Kalou.
It needed the win to keep the pressure on Bayern, which has won 12 of its last 13 games and is keen to make up for its Champions League exit to Liverpool on Tuesday.
But Lucien Favre’s side got off to a lousy start when Kalou scored in the fourth minute after Buerki spilled Maximilian Mittelstaedt’s effort.
Delaney replied with a deflected effort in the 14th. Jacob Bruun Larsen should have scored again for Dortmund but defender Niklas Stark, who received his first call-up for Germany on Friday, did enough to put him off.
The rain continued falling although it failed to dampen the spirits of the 75,000 fans at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
Kalou’s penalty in the 35th was accompanied by a cacophony of whistles from the traveling supporters. Referee Tobias Welz pointed to the spot after Julian Weigl handled, but the Dortmund midfielder had seemed to raise his arm to protect his face from Ondrej Duda’s cross.
Dortmund then made a blistering start to the second half. Zagadou equalized with a header from Sancho’s corner before Sancho himself went close.
Hertha responded with Marko Grujic hitting the post and Kalou missing the rebound. Dortmund had more chances however, and Reus finally made the difference.
American midfielder Christian Pulisic made only his sixth start in the league this season as Favre was forced to rotate due to injuries ruling out Axel Witsel, Mario Goetze and Paco Alcacer.
SCHALKE MISERY CONTINUES
Schalke’s hopes of making a fresh start under returning coach Huub Stevens were derailed by a 1-0 loss at home to Leipzig.
Timo Werner’s 14th-minute strike was enough for the visitors to consolidate third place and hand Schalke its fourth consecutive defeat.
The 65-year-old Stevens was back on an interim basis for his third stint in charge following the sacking of Domenico Tedesco on Thursday, but the Dutch coach could only watch as Mark Uth, Suat Serdar and Guido Burgstaller missed chances to equalize.
Schalke, routed 7-0 by Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, dropped closer to the relegation zone. Stuttgart’s 1-1 draw at home to Hoffenheim means there are now just three points between the sides with eight games left.
Schalke, runner-up last season, is going through its worst campaign since it was relegated 36 years ago. It already has 15 defeats from 26 games.
Augsburg defeated fellow struggler Hannover 3-1 to overtake Schalke.
Also Saturday, Wolfsburg beat Fortuna Duesseldorf 5-2 in its first game since Bruno Labbadia announced he would finish as coach at the end of the season.