Isak impresses in first competitive start as Dortmund defeat Magdeburg
Current title holders Borussia Dortmund strolled past third-tier side FC Magdeburg with a comfortable 5-0 win on Tuesday night to reach the round of 16 in the DFB Pokal.
Peter Bosz granted 18-year-old Swedish international centre-forward Alexander Isak his first competitive start in the wake of an injury to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who stayed in Dortmund due to muscular problems along with Mario Gotze, Julian Weigl and Christian Pulisic. Midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud also returned into the starting XI after overcoming an illness.
Spoiler alert: Isak did well.
In a tight schedule with two games each week, it was vital for the Black and Yellows to take care of business within regular time. Dortmund did not only win with comfort but Bosz afforded playing time to fringe players and those who just returned from injury, namely Marcel Schmelzer, Raphael Guerreiro and Andre Schurrle.
On this night, the only grain of salt for Dortmund will be the injury of Mahmoud Dahoud, who had to come off early after Richard Weil had clattered into his back in the first half.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- The 53-year-old Bosz utilised the cup round well to see Isak and Dan-Axel Zagadou in their natural positions in a competitive game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 6 -- None of Magdeburg's three shots on target created any real threat. The Dortmund goalkeeper had to rush out of his line to intercept a ball that was played over the back of his defence a couple of times.
DF Marc Bartra, 7 -- Again fielded as right-back, where he could act out his urge to run forward. Scored an uncontested header into the far corner in the 79th minute.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 6 -- With puppy eyes, he asked the referee what bad he had done while getting booked in the 66th minute after he had held his opponent's arm a couple seconds too long in a race for the ball. In other words, a normal match for the Greek centre-back.
DF Dan-Axel Zagadou, 7 -- One has to seriously question why Bosz started Weigl at centre-back against Frankfurt as Zagadou showed that he is more than capable of playing in his natural position, using his physique cleverly while impressing with a clean build-up from the back.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 6 -- It was a special game for the Magdeburg-born Dortmund captain, who ran through FCM's youth ranks before joining the Black and Yellows. The left-back allowed himself a few bad touches in the first minutes, but otherwise he looked very comfortable in his 60-minute cameo.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, 6 -- The 21-year-old was highly energetic from the start and indicated his creativity with some fine ideas. Many of his passes, however, were slightly overhit. The midfielder had to subbed off injured in the 41st minute.
MF Nuri Sahin, 6 -- A routine performance from the 29-year-old, including a few spectacular passes and shots from distance.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 7 -- He dribbled his way through against a defeated opponent in the final minute of the game to make it 5-0 after he had assisted Dortmund's fourth with a fine cross to find Bartra 11 minutes earlier.
FW Andrey Yarmolenko, 7 -- Instigated the first goal of the night with a trademark cross from the right side to find Isak. Converted a penalty with ease in the 73rd minute.
FW Alexander Isak, 8 -- The young Swede collected the German FA's man of the match award, which there is very little to argue about. This match will be vital for Isak's development. The 18-year-old headed Yarmolenko's cross perfectly for the better positioned Castro to finish in the 42nd minute. Right after half-time, he finished off a counter-attack by nutmegging the keeper for his first career goal for the Ruhr side. Isak left no doubt about his potential, as he showed his high footballing IQ along with his technique with clever runs, savvy lay-offs and intelligent positioning.
FW Maximilian Philipp, 7 -- Not on the scoresheet this time but Philipp will be happy with two assists to his name nonetheless.
MF Gonzalo Castro, 7 -- It took only 32 seconds for Castro to poke home Isak's assist after his entering the field in the 42nd minute, paving the way for a comfortable win.
DF Raphael Guerreiro, 6 -- Made his season debut in the 63rd minute, replacing Schmelzer. The Portuguese international immediately showed his technical skill with his ball control in tight spaces.
FW Andre Schurrle, NR -- Made his comeback from injury with 15 minutes left. Dortmund will be happy about any additional depth in what will be a tough November.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.