Borussia Dortmund continued their title chase in style on Saturday afternoon, beating Schalke 4-0 in the Revierderby at the Signal Iduna Park as football returned amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Thorgan Hazard had the first big chance of the game, wastefully blazing his shot over the bar. Erling Haaland smashed his first effort of the day into the side netting, before Daniel Caligiuiri pounced on a loose ball and forced a good save from Roman Bürki in goal.
The deadlock was eventually broken by none other than Haaland, who netted his tenth Bundesliga goal of the season. Hazard sent a tantalising low ball into the box, and the Dortmund talisman was there to simply poke it into the net to give the Schwarzgelben first blood in the Revierderby.
Dortmund had finally found their feet, and doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time. Julian Brandt threaded the ball through to the onrunning Raphael Guerreiro, who slotted it home in style to give the hosts a comfortable advantage going into the break.
The hosts picked up exactly where they left off after the break, scoring their third just three minutes into the second half. They broke up the pitch brilliantly moving the ball to Hazard, as the Belgian smashed his first-time shot past Markus Schubert to wrap up the three points for BVB.
Guerreiro added insult to injury for Die Königsblauen, getting his second of the afternoon with a stylish outside-of-the-boot finish from Haaland's simple pass. It was a delightful derby display from Borussia Dortmund, who welcomed the return of football with open arms and a trademark BVB victory.
Key Talking Point
The first big moment for Borussia Dortmund came before a ball had even been kicked, with top-scorer Jadon Sancho named on the bench. Giovanni Reyna's injury in the warmup denied him his full debut, instead making way for Thorgan Hazard to come into the XI, though Sancho's absence would surely be costly.
With Sancho merely a substitute and Dortmund seemingly short of their usual firepower, the pressure was on Hazard to make up for the Englishman's contributions. They had to take their chance sitting four points off the top at the start of play, and the Belgian didn't disappoint with his big chance, grabbing a goal and an assist in a fruitful display.
Dortmund were quiet in the opening half hour as they found their feet, but once they hit their stride there was no going back. BVB clearly hadn't forgotten their attacking style during the pause, one goal turning into two, three and four in a rampant performance.
Lucien Favre's side knew they had to hit the ground running, and did so with a brilliant Revierderby victory to move within one point of first place. Dortmund have proven that, despite two months out of action, they still mean business in Germany, and are ready to continue their enthralling title chase.
Starting XI: Bürki (7); Piszczek (6), Hummels (7), Akanji (6); Hakimi (7), Dahoud (6), Delaney (6), Guerreiro (8); Brandt (6), Haaland (8), Hazard (8*).
Substitutes: Balerdi (6), Sancho (6), Schmelzer (N/A), Götze (N/A).
Dortmund had a few solid contenders for man of the match, so impressive was their performance. Erling Haaland picked up where he left off with a goal and an assist, Raphael Guerreiro scored a brilliant brace and Achraf Hakimi was electric going up and down the right flank.
However, Thorgan Hazard was on a different level. He was under pressure coming in to replace Sancho and then Reyna at such short notice, but put in a superb attacking display. He caused countless problems for the Schalke defence, assisting the opening goal with a lovely cross before scoring his own in style.
It takes the Belgian's combined Bundesliga tally to 17 goals and assists this season, an accurate reflection of what has been an excellent season. Hazard seized his chance in the starting XI and put in a man of the match display, playing a key part in Dortmund's romping victory.
Key Talking Point
Unbeaten in their last three visits to the Signal Iduna Park and having scored four goals in each of their last two games there, Schalke were eager to continue their fine recent record in the Revierderby. Sancho's absence from the starting lineup was another small boost for S04, who could capitalise on Dortmund's reduced attacking power.
The Königsblauen never really seemed to threaten the hosts, though - in fact, their best chance of scoring was in the opening half hour where Dortmund were settling in, and even then they had just one decent chance. The Royal Blues never seemed dangerous nor confident going forward, unsurprising given they'd scored once in their last four games.
Schalke simply couldn't handle Dortmund, despite seemingly having an advantage in an empty Signal Iduna Park. It's now eight league games without a win for David Wagner's side, and the embarrassing derby defeat sees them drop out of the European spots. There is real work to do for Schalke.
Starting XI: Schubert (4); Todibo (6), Sané (6), Nastasić (5); Kenny (6), Serdar (7*), McKennie (6), Oczipka (5); Caligiuiri (6), Raman (5), Harit (5).
Substitutes: Matondo (6), Burgstaller (6), Schöpf (5), Miranda (5), Becker (N/A).
Schalke have little to come away with from the poor performance, with Suat Serdar the only positive take for them from Saturday's game.
Serdar put in a hardworking display and provided S04's only attacking quality going forward, yet the lack of quality around him proved costly for the visitors.
Borussia Dortmund are back in action next Saturday, when they travel to the Volkswagen Arena to face Wolfsburg. BVB then return to the Signal Iduna Park for another huge derby clash, as they host rivals Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker on 26 May.
Schalke return to home turf with their fixture next Sunday, with Augsburg the visitors in the early kick-off. S04 then go back on the road three days later, making the journey to relegation-battling Fortuna Düsseldorf on 27 May.