Borussia Dortmund provided much-needed fireworks with a 4-0 thrashing of bitter rivals Schalke 04 in Saturday’s behind-closed-doors Revierderby at the Signal Idun Park, after Bundesliga football was suspended for over two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bundesliga is the first major soccer league to return to action since the virus earlier this year shut down sports, and its return in a country that still has hundreds of positive virus cases a day is being closely watched by other leagues.
With a strict health protocol governing the fragile restart, which includes no fans, face masks for everyone but the players, no handshakes and no group celebrations, it was up to title hopefuls Dortmund to find a spark to restart their campaign.
- Read more: Finally, the Bundesliga returns!
Dortmund scored the first goal of the matchday after nearly half an hour when teenager Erling Haaland connected with a Thorgan Hazard cutback.
The exciting 19-year-old Norway striker, who knocked in his 13th goal in 12 appearances for Dortmund in all competitions, picked up exactly where he left off in March.
Superior from start to finish, Dortmund did not let the absence of 80,000 fans throw them off their title-chasing stride.
Portuguese midfielder Raphael Guerrero scored the second with a clinical finish on the stroke of half-time when Mahmoud Dahoud and Julian Brandt capitalised after a blunder by the Schalke goalkeeper Schubert in clearing the ball.
Schalke’s only real opening in a one-sided first half had come by way of a Daniel Caligiuri free-kick into the Dortmund wall, and their task was made a whole lot harder soon after the restart.
Play was allowed to continue after Salif Sane upended Haaland on halfway, allowing Brandt to turn and find Hazard, who thundered the third goal past Schubert from inside the box.
Brandt was the catalyst for Dortmund’s fourth, spraying a superb pass out wide for the run of Guerreiro.
The Portugal international exchanged passes with Haaland, before firing off an audacious outside-of-the-boot finish into the net to cap a 4-0 win that keeps Lucien Favre’s side hot on the heels of leaders Bayern Munich.
“I’d have preferred if the conditions were normal,” Dortmund midfielder Julian Brandt said. “We all have to adapt and try to have fun under the circumstances. We did that pretty well today and what better way to restart the league than with a win.”
Dortmund climbed to 54 points, one behind defending champions Bayern, who are in action at Union Berlin on Sunday.
Other German Bundesliga results
Augsburg 1-2 Wolfsburg
Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-0 SC Paderborn 07
Hoffenheim 0-3 Hertha BSC
RasenBallsport Leipzig 1-1 Freiburg
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-3 Borussia Mönchengladbach