BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus scored late to cut the gap on Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich to a point with a 2-1 win at home against Stuttgart on Saturday.
Dortmund looked set for disappointment as it struggled to take advantage of Bayern's shock 2-1 loss at Augsburg the night before, but Reus grabbed the home team's winner in the 85th minute when he tapped in the rebound after Florian Muller had saved Thorgan Hazard's initial effort.
The chance came on a counterattack from Stuttgart's corner as the visitors themselves pushed for a winner.
Dortmund was again without injured star forward Erling Haaland, who watched from the stands.
Dutch striker Donyell Malen scored his first Bundesliga goal since joining Dortmund in the offseason from PSV Eindhoven, but Stuttgart fought back through Roberto Massimo.
Stuttgart made life difficult from the start and had the best chance of the first half when Gregor Kobel was forced to make a brilliant save to deny Tanguy Coulibaly a few minutes before halftime.
Malen, who'd been coming in for criticism for failing to settle after his move, finally got his first league goal in the 56th, though it came with some luck as his long-range effort took a decisive deflection from Stuttgart captain Wataru Endo.
Massimo equalized on a counterattack seven minutes later, but Reus had the final say.
DERBY HONOURS FOR UNION
Basking in the novelty of a sold-out stadium, Union Berlin defeated crosstown rival Hertha Berlin 2-0 in a largely peaceful derby and climbed to fifth.
First-half goals from Taiwo Awoniyi and captain Christopher Trimmel were enough for Union to claim the unofficial title of "Stadtmeister" (city champion) and leave Hertha floundering in 13th place, far from the European qualification spots it has targeted.
It was the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began that Union was permitted to sell out its 22,012-capacity stadium, and the first time that fans could attend the Berlin derby since November 2019.
Memories of trouble at that game meant a large police presence around the stadium. Berlin's police said on Twitter that around 1,000 officers were on duty to "protect the game, the city, and of course the fans."
Union was only promoted in 2019, but it has been faring much better than its neighbour from the west of the city. Urs Fischer's team has claimed 108 points altogether since its promotion, 19 more than Hertha over the same period.
On their previous visit to the eastern borough of Köpenick, Hertha supporters shot fireworks onto the field and at Union fans. Union goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz confronted his own team's angry supporters to stop them reaching Hertha fans after the game.
There was only a brief interruption to the game this time, from a solitary firework when it was already apparent that Union would win.
Awoniyi opened the scoring in the eighth minute, taking advantage of a defensive mistake from Marton Dardai and tucking his shot inside the left post. It led to an eruption of sound. Journalists in the press area shielded their laptops as some fans jettisoned their drinks.
The visitors tried to respond but lacked the cutting edge to really trouble Andreas Luthe in the Union goal.
It proved the difference between the sides as Trimmel scored the second goal off a corner when he let fly from distance and saw his shot go past several players and inside the far post in the 30th.
Peter Pekarik flashed a shot just wide of the far post in response. He thought he'd scored before the break. But the goal was ruled out through VAR — after a long delay — for offside in the buildup.
Hertha had a good chance on a counterattack after the break when it had three forwards against just two defenders, but Marco Richter's cross went over all his teammates. It summed up the visitors' game.
Only fans who showed proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 were allowed to attend under restrictions meant to limit the risk of infection. Germany is going through a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and the national rate has been climbing every day.
Earlier, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen also won, by beating promoted sides Greuther Furth 4-0 and Bochum 1-0, respectively.
Hoffenheim defeated American coach Jesse Marsch's Leipzig team 2-0 and Arminia Bielefeld drew with Wolfsburg 2-2.