Berlin: Borussia Dortmund's crisis worsened Friday with a 2-1 loss at promoted Stuttgart, the former leader's fourth defeat in five Bundesliga games.
Chadrac Akolo and Josip Brekalo scored early in each half to increase the pressure on Dortmund coach Peter Bosz, whose side hasn't won in the league since September.
"It hurts," said Bosz, who remained defiant. "We're not giving up.'
Dortmund played without top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, suspended by the club on Thursday, reportedly for being repeatedly late for training and for inviting a camera crew to the training ground for a marketing exercise.
The side got off to a terrible start in Stuttgart when Marc Bartra botched a short back-pass to Roman Buerki. The Spanish defender struck it much too hard, surprising the goalkeeper, allowing Akolo to pounce on the rebound for an easy score to the unguarded net.
Dortmund tried everything to recover, but found it difficult to break down Stuttgart's stubborn defence.
Mario Gotze almost equalised around the half-hour mark. Andrey Yarmolenko played in Andre Schurrle, who pulled the ball back for Gotze, but the Germany midfielder was denied by a fine save from Ron-Robert Zieler.
Zieler also saved a penalty from Schurrle before the break, but Maximilian Philipp nipped in to fire in the rebound from a tight angle. It was a deserved equalizer for Dortmund.
However, Brekalo scored again with Stuttgart's second shot on goal early in the second half, when the home side might have added more.
Yarmolenko thought he'd equalised with a lob but his goal was ruled out for handball in the buildup.
Of 15 games at home across two divisions this year, Stuttgart have now won 12 and lost none.
Dortmund, which led by five points from Bayern Munich last month, could find themselves nine points behind the defending champions on Saturday after Bayern's home game against Augsburg.
"Today we took a step in the right direction but we just weren't rewarded for it," said Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer, whose side next faces Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League before playing Schalke in the Ruhr Derby next weekend.
Updated Date: Nov 18, 2017 11:18:14 IST