Coronavirus Fails to Stop Borussia Dortmund Against Schalke in Bundesliga Return
Erling Haaland Continues Terrific Form While Guerreiro Impresses
Just 22 miles separates the two sides’ stadiums but Die Schwasrzgelben’s class was well and truly on show.
Goals from Erling Haaland, Thorgan Hazard and a Raphael Guerreiro brace provided Dortmund with the important three points.
Neither side have played any competitive football for 61 days due to coronavirus and, understandably, there was a slow start.
Haaland created the first chance of note on five minutes. His touch forward ricocheted off a defender into the penalty area but Schalke goalkeeper Markus Schubert was quickly off his line to deal with the danger.
Aside from an early off-target Daniel Caliguiri free-kick, the visitors never grounded their feet at the Signal Iduna.
Achraf Hakimi’s low cross almost found a Dortmund player but Jean-Clair Todibo and Weston McKennie combined to clear. Guerriero came close, driving into the area, but Salif Sane blocked his tame strike.
Schalke provided a rare moment of attacking focus when Caliguari took advantage of Manuel Akanji’s poorly-timed clearance, yet he was unable to convert from six yards on 27 minutes.
And that miss came to haunt the visitors a minute later when the hosts took a deserved lead with an excellent attacking move.
Marcel Brandt’s clever flick sent Hazard driving into space on the right flank, the Belgian international drilled a cross towards the on-rushing Haaland who made no hesitation in beating Schubert from close range.
The hosts could have had a second when another clever pass from Brandt found Hakimi in a central position – the midfielder pushed forward but had his shot blocked.
It was to no avail for Lucien Favre’s side, however, as the Black and Yellows doubled their advantage just before half-time thanks to Schalke’s defensive error.
Under pressure from Haaland, Schubert’s hurried clearance fell to Brandt. The terrific midfielder slid the ball between defenders as Guerreiro ran forward; he then calmly shot past the red-faced Schubert.
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Suat Serdar’s tame half-chance lacked power and placement to beat Roman Burki from 18 yards; however, it gave hope of an improved Schalke performance in the second half.
But the visitors’ complacency in-front of goal punished themselves, allowing Hazard to increase Dortmund’s lead to three.
Favre’s side very quickly engineered a counter-attack and, even when Haaland was fouled on the half-way line, Brandt squeezed a pass wide to Hazard who strode forward before striking beyond Schubert three minutes into the second half.
Dortmund’s victory was confirmed ten minutes later when another excellent attacking move carved open Schalke.
Brandt fed the ball to Guerreiro who was on the move, the left-sided midfielder played a clever one-two with Haaland and – as he travelled into the penalty area – he calmly converted showing great panache with an outside-of-the-boot finish.
Rabbi Matondo could have given Schalke a consolation goal shortly before full-time.
The substitute nimbly beat multiple defenders on the edge-of-the-box but could not shoot before the danger was cleared.
Victory for Dortmund is a huge boost in their hopes of a title challenge. Many football fans had questioned whether the Black and Yellows could maintain the pressure on Bayern at the top.
With a lack of atmosphere in such a strange experience, few would have criticised Dortmund for a lacklustre performance. But Favre’s side showed class and clinical finishing with four exquisite goals against a poor Schalke side.
The fixture raises plenty of questions for the visitors; Schalke are now winless in eight and without a goal in five matches.
High on their list of worries will be the performance of Schubert between the sticks. But, having faced relegation last season, it will take time for them to stabilise under David Wagner.