Borussia Dortmund were able to start Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle together for the first time in the Bundesliga on Sunday and were rewarded with a 1-0 victory at Borussia Monchengladbach, but it was goalkeeper Roman Burki who proved to be the hero for the visitors.
Dortmund have enjoyed an upturn in form of late and extended their winning run to four matches in succession thanks to a stunning goal from Reus in the 32nd minute.
The forward, having finally regained full fitness after suffering a torn cruciate knee ligament in May, partnered his fellow Germany stars in attacking midfield against his former team.
Reus starred for Gladbach between 2009 and 2012 before moving to Signal Iduna Park, and his brilliant effort would have come as no surprise to supporters of Die Fohlen.
The hosts created more chances than Dortmund but found Burki in determined mood, and Dieter Hecking's team have now gone four matches without hitting the back of the net in a slumped that has seen them drop to 10th.
Dortmund, meanwhile, are up to second, with their campaign for Champions League qualification firmly back on track after replacing head coach Peter Bosz with Peter Stoger in December.
A terrible playing surface contributed to a scrappy first half hour at Borussia-Park, where Gladbach's Lars Stindl had a shot saved by Burki in the 13th minute following a dangerous counter-attack.
Burki received lengthy treatment nine minutes later after a heavy challenge from Raul Bobadilla, prompting Roman Weidenfeller to warm up, but the first-choice goalkeeper proved able to continue.
Dortmund then took the lead with their first real chance in the 32nd minute.
Reus, making only his second Bundesliga start since May, was found just inside the area by Schurrle and lifted a clever, eye-catching finish over goalkeeper Yann Sommer and in off the underside of the crossbar.
The video assistant referee (VAR) system correctly denied Gladbach a goal when Jannik Vestergaard poked home in the 42nd minute, having been found by Bobadilla in an offside position following a free-kick.
The hosts should have gone in level at the break, though, Thorgan Hazard cutting in from the left and gliding past three opponents only to fire wide of the far post with Burki beaten.
Burki was called on again to deny Gladbach 10 minutes into the second half, stretching to stop Stindl's strike and then smothering Bobadilla's attempt to convert the rebound, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos hooking the ball clear following a deflection off the attacker.
Nico Elvedi should have equalised in the 69th minute, the left-back heading straight at Burki when left unmarked from Hazard's cross.
And the Gladbach onslaught continued to no avail six minutes later, Bobadilla denied once more by the goalkeeper, who kept out a firm strike from the centre of the penalty area.
Hecking's side were left to rue that catalogue of missed opportunities, as Dortmund survived a handball from Michy Batshuayi inside the area that went unseen by the referee to secure all three points in a tense finale.
Key Opta stats:
- Marco Reus, Andre Schurrle and Mario Gotze started for the first time in a competitive match for Borussia Dortmund.
- Gotze played his 153th competitive match for Borussia Dortmund, levelling Matthias Sammer.
- In his second Bundesliga appearance of the season Reus scored his first goal. Reus has scored in six of his last eight Bundesliga games.
- Dortmund have won the last five Bundesliga games where Reus has been captain.
- Peter Stoger is the first BVB manager to remain undefeated in his first eight Bundesliga games (five wins, thre draws).