Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Sunderland
A gladiatorial display ensured a satisfying end to Sunderland’s unbeaten pre-season as the Black Cats held Borussia Dortmund to a 1-1 stalemate at the Cashpoint Arena, Austria.
Thomas Tuchel’s side controlled large spells of the game, showcasing why they’re one of Europe’s very best sides, but Sunderland were resilient and battled tirelessly, displaying a grit that will be key at the Etihad Stadium.
Nuri Sahin opened the scoring with 16 minutes played after Sunderland failed to clear, but the remainder of the opening period fell flat as David Moyes’ side thwarted the Bundesliga giants.
Changes were made at the break as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emre Mor injected further quality into the Dortmund attack, but it was Sunderland who crafted the better opportunities as Duncan Watmore failed to produce a finish after racing through on goal.
Lamine Kone made no such mistake and his bullet header levelled the encounter on 65 minutes.
BVB ended the game with a front four of Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Mor and Aubameyang, but they were unable to break down the battling Black Cats who posted an unbeaten pre-season ahead of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign.
Next stop, Manchester.
Moyes selected a strong starting XI with Kone, Younes Kaboul, Lee Cattermole and Jack Rodwell forming the spine of the side, with Jermain Lens, Watmore and Wahbi Khazri providing support for frontman Fabio Borini.
Jan Kirchhoff and Jermain Defoe missed out due to injury. Dortmund, meanwhile, fielded a side which oozed quality from back to front with Marc Bartra, Nuri Sahin, Shinji Kagawa and Ousmane Dembele starting against the Black Cats.
Unsurprisingly, the Bundesliga giants started with confidence and class with Dembele flashing an effort wide of the post moments before Sebastian Rode’s powerful strike screamed past the woodwork.
The Black Cats struggled to find their rhythm as wave after wave of attack crashed against their backline, and with 16 minutes played they were breached as Sahin’s effort squirmed into the net.
Dembele sparked the move shifting the ball onto his left foot and crossing into the box, but Rodwell’s clearance wasn’t enough and the ball fell straight into the path of the former Liverpool midfielder who rifled home from 20 yards.
Sunderland’s response was bright and Khazri epitomised their work ethic and tenacity, driving forward at every opportunity before carving out the Lads’ first opportunity of the game as Borussia bodies blocked his testing cross.
But it didn’t take long for Dortmund to reassert their dominance and by the end of the opening 45 minutes they were queuing up. Gonzalo Castro and Rode ran the midfield with Kagawa pulling the strings, but Sunderland weathered the storm and ensured their entered the break within touching distance.
Jordan Pickford and Josh Robson entered the fray at the break and their first task was to stop one of Europe’s best strikers, Aubameyang. And the superstar wasn’t the only new face within the Dortmund ranks following the restart, with Turkish wonderkid Emre Mor and Mikel Merino purring into action.
However, it was one of Sunderland’s starlets who made the biggest impact during the early stages of the second 45 minutes, with Watmore breaking the offside trap and racing one on one with Roman Weidenfeller.
The 22-year-old had time and space against the veteran stopper but his run was halted as the pair collided, but the decision went in favour of the ‘keeper as the referee waved Watmore to his feet.
Dortmund were shocked back into life and they quickly regained the upper hand as the exceptional Mor teased and tormented the Sunderland defence time after time.
Aubameyang also grew into the game finding pockets of space between defence and midfield, but the Germans remained shackled for the most part and with 25 minutes left the Black Cats pounced.
Jeremain Lens was the architect curling a brilliant free-kick to the back post and Kone did the rest, towering above the Dortmund defence before powering a header past Weidenfeller.
Moments later Rodwell was inches away from making it 2-1 as his header whistled over the top. Backed by a plethora of supporters, Dortmund sought to impress and they signalled their intent seconds after Kone’s strike as Gotze, Schurrle and Julian Weigl joined the party.
Mor crafted the best opportunity of the latter stages, jinking past Pickford before slotting the ball towards goal, but superb recovering from Patrick van Aanholt ensured parity remained as Mor looked on in disbelief.
Joel Asoro came off the bench late on and once again the Swedish youngster impressed, with Elliot Embleton also making his first-team debut to complete a positive evening for the Black Cats.
Pre-season is over; the Premier League is here.
Sunderland: Mannone (Pickford, 46), O'Shea, van Aanholt, Kaboul, Kone, Cattermole (Embleton, 84), Rodwell (Gooch, 77), Lens (Honeyman, 82), Khazri (J Robson, 46), Watmore (Asoro, 67), Borini (Greenwood, 84).
Subs not used: Ledger, T Robson.
Dortmund: Burki (Weidenfeller, 46), Schmelzer (Pulisic, 66), Bartra (Mor, 46), Sokratis (Schurrle, 66), Passlack (Piszczek, 66), Sahin (Guerreiro, 66), Castro (Weigl, 66), Dembele (Merino, 46), Kagawa (Gotze, 66), Rode (Aubameyang, 46), Ramos (Burnic, 66)
Sub not used: Bandowski.