Borussia Dortmund won 4-0 (2-0) against FC Schalke 04 in the 158th Ruhr derby – their biggest away victory against the Royal Blues since 1964 – to keep up the pressure on their Champions League-chasing rivals.
Boris Rupert reporting from Gelsenkirchen
Goals in close succession from Sancho (42) and Haaland (45) on the stroke of half-time put the Black & Yellows – who had been the superior side but had struggled to break through – on the path to victory. There were two hearts-in-mouths moments after the interval before BVB extended their lead to 4-0 through Guerreiro (60) and Haaland (79).
Bottom vs. sixth. BVB went into the derby looking to close the nine-point gap to the Champions League places, while S04 were rock bottom having picked up nine points all season. Both clubs therefore needed to win to keep their objectives alive. This was the first time in Bundesliga history that BVB had gone into a derby on a run of three consecutive clean sheets against Schalke (3-0, 4-0, 0-0).
Edin Terzic made only two changes for the derby, which took place around 68 hours after the Champions League clash with Sevilla had come to an end: Brandt began in place of Bellingham and Delaney came in for the injured Akanji (fibre tear), whose place at the heart of defence was taken by Can. Bürki, Hazard, Piszczek, Schmelzer, Witsel and Zagadou joined Akanji in the treatment room.
Both teams took to the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation. But whenever Dortmund had possession of the ball, the home side would withdraw deep into their own half and only attack once the halfway line had been crossed. Their game plan was to play with two banks of four or five and be as compact as possible. Dahoud frequently dropped between the two centre-backs during build-up play, while Morey and Guerreiro pushed far forward on their respective flanks. Sancho played level with Haaland, with Brandt and Reus behind them.
The match & analysis:
BVB dominated this encounter from the first minute and almost took the lead against this deep-lying Schalke side early on: Haaland fed the ball to Sancho, who shot from a centre-left position in the box 10 metres out, but he couldn't get the better of Fährmann (7).
It was only one of several highly promising moves inside the Schalke box, but the visitors were not consistent or precise enough to see any of them through. As a result, it became a bit of a slow-burner for a while. But Dahoud then initiated a strong finish to the first period with a shot from the edge of the box that was saved by Langer, who had come on to replace Fährmann between the sticks, in the 36th minute. That proved to be the catalyst. Morey won the ball back off Stambouli deep in the Schalke half and found Sancho, who made it 1-0 with a well-placed shot from 16 metres (42). The Englishman then paved the way for the second goal barely three minutes later. He crossed into the box from a deep position on the left and Haaland applied an acrobatic finish to put Dortmund 2-0 in front – a stunning goal!
Schalke made some tactical and personnel tweaks at the interval and quickly sought to pull a goal back. Hitz was involved in two crucial moments, turning Serdar's shot from around 14 metres out onto the post with his fingertips (50) and then turning Hoppe's effort behind for a corner (53). But BVB found the right response. Guerreiro pushed high up and played a one-two with Reus in the box before slotting home to make it 3-0 on the hour mark.
Terzic also reacted with a tactical change ahead of a final half-hour that at times proved to be hectic. Bellingham's introduction in place of Brandt saw BVB switch to a 4-4-3. And with 11 minutes to go, they found the net to make it 4-0. Sancho and Bellingham linked up nicely to tee up Haaland, who was left with a tap-in in the six-yard box.
With no midweek fixture coming up, BVB are next in action next Saturday (27 February, 15:30 CET) when they play host to Arminia Bielefeld.