Former Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa produced a virtuoso display for Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, scoring a goal and setting up another in a comfortable 3-0 win over St Pauli in the DFB Pokal.
Kagawa failed to showcase his true quality during his two years at Old Trafford, but is beginning to rediscover his form after rejoining the club where he established his reputation as one of Europe’s best playmakers.
United signed Kagawa from Dortmund in the summer of 2012 for an initial £12 million, but sold him two years later for just £6.3 million.
Van Gaal too hasty with his decision?
Van Gaal opted to sell the Japan international after watching him closely on the Red Devils’ pre-season tour of the United States and deciding Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj were all better options in the No. 10 position.
But on the evidence of Tuesday night’s match against St Pauli at the Millerntor-Stadion, the United boss may have been a little hasty with his decision.
"Kagawa did not wish to fulfil my wishes, my philosophy when I played him in the United States." - Louis van Gaal.
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Kagawa provided the assist for teammate Ciro Immobile’s opening goal - a lovely Borussia Dortmund move - before Manchester United target Marco Reus put the visitors 2-0 up before half-time.
Kagawa's Zidane-esque touch and goal
With Dortmund cruising, Kagawa began to turn on the style. The Japan star produced a glorious touch in the second half that Zinedine Zidane would have been proud of, before capping off a fine individual display by scoring Dortmund’s third and final goal of the night with five minutes left on the clock.
Dortmund's dreadful league form
But while Dortmund’s performances in cup competitions have been eye-catching this season, their Bundesliga displays have been dreadful - and for the first time, questions are beginning to be asked of manager Jurgen Klopp.
BVB are without a league win since mid-September, and have lost their last four Bundesliga fixtures, leaving them down in 15th place.
And the 2013 Champions League finalists’ fortunes are unlikely to change any time soon: this weekend Dortmund make the daunting trip to the Allianz Arena to face league champions Bayern Munich.
But with Kagawa in red hot form, perhaps there’s still a small chance that Borussia Dortmund could pull off a shock win in their rivals’ back-yard this weekend.