BERLIN, Aug 20: Borussia Dortmund showed it can thrive this season without suspended forward Ousmane Dembele by opening its Bundesliga campaign with a 3-0 rout at Wolfsburg on Saturday.
United States international Christian Pulisic scored one goal and set up another.
Dembele remains suspended after missing training when Barcelona made a bid for the player. Dortmund is yet to receive a second offer after turning down a bid reportedly worth 85 million euros ($100 million) with another 20 million ($23.4 million) in add-ons.
“We have a clear position and a clear idea. If this is met, Dembele will be transferred this summer. If not, he’ll stay with Dortmund,” sporting director Michael Zorc said before kickoff in Wolfsburg. “We won’t wait to the last day of the transfer window with this decision.”
Dortmund fans have turned against the 20-year-old Dembele, who had six goals and 13 assists in his debut Bundesliga season after joining for 15 million euros from Rennes last year. One supporter attending Saturday’s game altered his Dembele jersey to read “Dumbele.”
Pulisic scored Dortmund’s first league goal of the season after good work by Mario Goetze, who was making his first Bundesliga start since December after illness.
Goetze spotted Pulisic free to his right and played in the teenager. Pulisic scored with a great finish inside the far post midway through the first half.
Marc Bartra made it 2-0 with a brilliantly curled shot from a difficult angle inside the top corner.
Dortmund continued its domination in the second half when Pulisic crossed for last season’s top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to start his tally for the 2017-18 campaign.
Benedikt Hoewedes’ apparent demotion dominated the buildup to Schalke’s 2-0 win over Leipzig. New coach Domenico Tedesco stripped the captaincy from the World Cup winner to goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann, but then he also kept him on the bench for the clash with last season’s runner-up.
Nabil Bentaleb scored a penalty before the break and Yevhen Konoplyanka sealed it on a counterattack as Schalke delivered a statement with an impressive win.
Mathew Leckie scored twice on his league debut for Hertha Berlin to beat promoted Stuttgart 2-0 at home.
The Australia forward, who joined from Ingolstadt in the offseason, eluded a defender with a clever flick and finished in style just after the restart, and then blasted home after Stuttgart failed to clear a corner.
Nicolai Mueller’s first-half goal was enough for Hamburger SV to beat visiting Augsburg 1-0, but it came at a price as he injured himself in the celebrations.
Mueller, arguably Hamburg’s best performer last season, fired the side into an early lead – Augsburg ’keeper Marwin Hitz should have done better – but then had to go off after twisting his knee while celebrating.
Andrej Kramaric scored late for Hoffenheim to beat Werder Bremen 1-0, and Hannover celebrated its return to the league with a 1-0 win at Mainz.-AP