Donyell Malen let out a shout full of joy, and perhaps a little relief. After 523 minutes, he finally had his first goal for Borussia Dortmund.
Having been denied by the post (and the offside flag) and then by another offside call, Malen looked set to have another frustrating night.
Instead, the 22-year-old Dutchman angled a smart finish into the far corner to end his goal drought and decide a solid if unspectacular game against the Portuguese champions.
“I thought he wanted to square it looking at it first time but it’s actually an ice-cold finish,” Mats Hummels told Amazon afterwards.
It hasn’t been easy for Malen, arriving for reportedly €30 million ($35m) and replacing Jadon Sancho. With Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham’s performances dominating the headlines, Malen’s slow start has largely gone unnoticed.
But against Gladbach, with Erling Haaland out, Malen and Dortmund’s attack failed to inspire. Wth Haaland still out, and the floodlights on for a home European game, it felt like an appopriate moment for Malen to announce his arrival with a game-changing performance.
That didn’t come. There were no jinking runs or dizzying dribbles from the man coached by Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry in his youth. It was just the goal, and the two other that were chalked off for offside, before he was brought off with 15 minutes to go.
But one goal can make all the difference. The 55 he scored at PSV led him to Dortmund, and into the Dutch national side. The one tonight won Dortmund the game and kept them perfect in the Champions League. More importantly it will have relaxed Donyell Malen. The Dutchman has had his moment. Now he can just play.