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2021-22 German Bundesliga
  • Axel Witsel (87')

Borussia Dortmund keep title hopes alive with late winner against Mainz

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Axel Witsel scores a late winner for Dortmund (1:01)

Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel gets on the end of a set-piece cross to deliver the game winner against Mainz. (1:01)

Axel Witsel scored an 87th-minute goal to give Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 victory at Mainz 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 Giovanni Reyna free kick.

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United States star Reyna, who had an injury setback on Feb. 20 against Borussia Monchengladbach, came on as a 69th minute substitute and set up the Witsel goal after Jude Bellingham was fouled by Mainz.

Dortmund had been largely toothless until that stage with substitute Erling Haaland's 67th-minute shot that was turned wide by keeper Robin Zentner their best chance, until Witsel broke the deadlock.

Bayern are top on 60 points, with Dortmund in second place on 56. 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.

"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."

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.