Erling Braut Haaland scored twice and 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna shone as youthful Borussia Dortmund swept aside fellow Champions League side Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-0 on Saturday on the opening weekend of the Bundesliga season.
After holders Bayern Munich had kicked off the 2020/21 campaign on Friday with a record 8-0 thrashing of Schalke, Dortmund’s youngsters also dazzled at home to Gladbach.
“It was a really good start to the season. We have a lot of young guys, it’s fun to play with guys near my age,” said USA Under-17 international Reyna.
“This is an exciting group and we have to keep working.”
Haaland converted a second-half penalty, then again showcased his clinical eye for goal by finishing a superb counter as Dortmund attacked from their own goal.
Coach Lucien Favre banked on youth by starting two 17-year-olds in Reyna and England Under-21 midfielder Jude Bellingham, who made his league debut, with Sancho and Haaland, both 20, leading Dortmund’s attack.
Reyna, making just his third league start, paid back the faith by scoring the opening goal and winning the penalty Haaland converted.
Reyna drilled home Bellingham’s superb pass from a tight ankle on 34 minutes, then had his ankle clipped after a darting run into the area to win the penalty for Haaland.
Sancho tried to convince Haaland to let him take the spot-kick, but “I was confident whoever took it, would score, which is the most important thing” said Reyna.
Haaland then stole the show with a stunning end-to-end sprint to support Sancho’s break before crashing home Dortmund’s third goal on 78 minutes.
The towering Norwegian, the first player in Bundesliga history to score a hat-trick from the bench, now has 18 goals in 20 games for Dortmund since his arrival in January.
For the first time since March, some German league clubs were able to welcome back limited numbers of fans, depending on permission from local health authorities.
The biggest crowd of the day was in Dortmund, as 9,300 cheered the impressive home win.
“It’s amazing to have fans back, they support us so much,” added Reyna.
Having finished runners-up to Bayern for the last two seasons, Dortmund are on a collision course with the European champions who they meet in the German Super Cup showdown on September 30 in Munich.
Earlier, Hertha Berlin’s new-signing Jhon Cordoba scored on his debut in a 4-1 away romp at Werder Bremen as the ambitious capital city club also threw down an early marker.
In front of 8,500 in Bremen, Hertha defender Peter Pekarik and Belgian-born winger Dodi Lukebakio scored quick-fire goals at the end of the first half to leave Werder 2-0 down at the break and the hosts were whistled off the pitch by their own fans.
Colombia striker Cordoba, signed from Cologne in mid-week, came on to start the move which Brazil Under-23 forward Matheus Cunha finished as Hertha went 3-0 up with an hour gone.
Davie Selke scored Bremen’s second-half consolation goal before Cordoba capped his debut by tucking home Hertha’s fourth goal on 90 minutes.
Just like Bayern, Cologne also had to play behind closed doors due to a rising rate of infection for their 3-2 home defeat to Hoffenheim, for whom Andrej Kramaric scored a hat-trick.
The Croatia striker put the visitors ahead after three minutes following a mix up in defence, netted a penalty and smashed home the winning goal in added time after Cologne had launched a late fight back.
In the capital, playmaker Michael Gregoritsch and winger Andre Hahn scored late goals as Augsburg beat hosts Union Berlin 3-1 in front of 4,600 fans.
Newly-promoted Arminia Bielefeld earned a point with a 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt on their return to the top flight in front of 6,500.
Stuttgart, who also came up, gave Freiburg a scare with late goals by Sasa Kalajdzic and Silas Wamangituka as they fought back in a 3-2 defeat in front of 8,000.