In the end it was a 3-0 win for Borussia Dortmund, as they overcame the challenge of a determined and resilient Darmstadt side. Despite a rather underwhelming overall performance, there were plenty of positives for the Black and Yellows as they claimed a crucial win to move to within three points of fourth placed RB Leipzig.
Goals from Julian Brandt, Marco Reus, and Youssoufa Moukoko secured the 3-0 win for Borussia Dortmund, with Jadon Sancho coming off the bench and marking his return to the club with an assist.
Ian Maatsen slotted straight into the starting XI due to BVB's left-back crisis, while Sancho started on the bench on his return to the Bundesliga. Mats Hummels' illness meant that Emre Can started at centre-back ahead of Niklas Süle.
Borussia Dortmund made a laboured start to the game and were thoroughly outplayed by the 18-placed Darmstadt in the first 20 minutes. But the home side's lack of quality up front prevented them from taking advantage of some promising situations.
Julian Brandt had BVB's first decent chance of the game, and his shot was saved by the Darmstadt goalkeeper after an excellent cross by Maatsen. The attacking midfielder wasn't to be denied in the 24th minute, though, as he found the bottom corner with a deft finish after being set up by Jamie Bynoe-Gittens on the counter-attack.
Despite going behind, Darmstadt continued to press forward. And they had a great opportunity to equalise in the 39th minute, but Tim Skarke failed to find the target from close range.
The second-half was more of the same, with Borussia Dortmund too timid both with and without the ball, but Darmstadt lacking the quality to take advantage. Gregor Kobel did not have much to do in the first-half, but he made a spectacular point-blank save in the 65th minute to keep BVB ahead.
There was not much in terms of chances for Borussia Dortmund in the second-half, until Jadon Sancho came off the bench and set up fellow sub Marco Reus to put the game beyond Darmstadt's reach. Youssoufa Moukoko then added a third in stoppage time after some excellent individual play to add some gloss to the scoreline.
Borussia Dortmund can take plenty of positives from their win over SV Darmstadt, even if their overall performance left a lot to be desired. Next up for BVB is a trip to FC Köln as the second half of the season officially gets underway in the Bundesliga.