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Bundesliga: Wirtz sparkles but Haaland seals Dortmund win

The
18-year-old
had
opened
the
scoring
with
a
classy
outside-of-the-boot
strike,
before
laying
on
Leverkusen’s
second
for
Patrik
Schick.

But
Leverkusen
let
both
those
leads
slip
and
finally
threw
it
away
completely
after
a
brilliant
freekick
from
Raphael
Guerreiro
and
an
Erling
Haaland
penalty.

The
comeback
secured
the
points
for
Borussia
Dortmund
in
the
sort
of
thrilling
encounter
that
has
become
a
hallmark
of
this
fixture
in
recent
seasons.

Wirtz
has
long
been
on
the
radar
in
German
football
circles.
As
a
youth
player,
his
move
from
Cologne
to
Leverkusen
caused
quite
a
stir
as
it
broke
a
pact,
that
had
existed
since
2001,
that
the
two
clubs,
and
nearby
Borussia
Mönchengladbach,
would
not
poach
youth
players
from
each
other.

Telling
contributions

If
any
bad
blood
remains
from
that
decision,
it’s
surely
worth
it.
Wirtz
already
has
two
goals
and
three
assists
in
just
124
league
minutes
this
term
and
plays
with
a
decisive
maturity
beyond
his
years.

His
opening
goal
was
a
case
in
point.
When
Paulinho
nicked
the
ball
from
Guerreiro,
Wirtz
sprung
to
life.
As
he
received
the
ball
his
mind
was
uncluttered,
his
confidence
was
clear
and
his
finish
was
smart.

After
another
of
the
Bundesliga’s
current
crop
of

Wünderkinder,

Haaland,
headed
in
an
equalizer
from
a
Thomas
Meunier
cross,
it
was
Wirtz
that
dragged
Leverkusen
back
in
to
the
lead.

Many
of
his
most-admired
qualities
combined
to
create
Schick’s
strike:
smart
positioning
on
the
counter,
a
driving
run
and
a
perfectly
timed
pass
allowed
the
Czech
Republic
striker
to
curl
first
time
in
to
the
far
corner.

Latest
off
the
Leverkusen
production
line

Fans
at
the
Bay
Arena
have
become
used
to
gifted
German
playmakers
in
recent
years,
with
Kai
Havertz
and
Julian
Brandt,
Wirtz’s
predecessors
in
the
role.
While
Wirtz
has
already
allowed
the

Werkself

to
move
on
from
Havertz’ move
to
Chelsea,
Brandt
returned
to
haunt
his
former
employers
when
a
brilliant,
improvised
touch
helped
him
grab
Dortmund’s
second
equalizer.

Moussa
Diaby’s
strike
was
further
confirmation
of
the
talent
on
display
in
Leverkusen’s
attacking
ranks.
But
it
wasn’t
enough,
as
Dortmund’s
own
offensive
weapons
managed
to
edge
it.
Close
but
not
close
enough,
so
often
the
Leverkusen
way.

Though
it’s
still
early
in
his
career,
it’s
that
status
below
the
elite
that
means
a
player
of
Wirtz’s
ability
is
likely
to
eventually
follow
Havertz
and
Brandt
in
leaving
the
BayArena.

Given
their
persistent
defensive
shortcomings,
it
must
also
be
questionable
whether
Dortmund
can
truly
count
themselves
among
that
elite,
though
Haaland
certainly
can.

Though
the
Norwegian
had
the
last
laugh
in
Leverkusen
on
Saturday,
Wirtz
once
again
served
notice
that
he
too
has
all
the
tools
to
make
it
to
the
top.
Leverkusen
fans
will,
once
again,
have
to
enjoy
him
while
they
can.

Source:

DW

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