Erling Haaland carried on where he left off before the coronavirus suspension as the teenager kicked off Borussia Dortmund’s thumping victory against rivals Schalke 04 in an entertaining, if surreal, return to Bundesliga action.
Rigorous hygiene protocols and regular testing in a country that has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than some others meant the German top-flight became the first major league to return to action.
All eyes were on the Bundesliga on Saturday and the strangest Revierderby in history was the highlight, with January signing Haaland’s 10th league goal setting Dortmund on course for a 4-0 win against Schalke in front of empty stands.
Raphael Guerreiro’s brace and Thorgan Hazard’s strike sealed the thumping win against David Wagner’s men in this ‘geisterspiel’ – ghost game – at the mammoth Signal Iduna Park.
Millions of extra viewers joined players and stakeholders from leagues across the world in tuning into the resumption of action on what was supposed to be the final weekend of the Bundesliga season.
Title-chasing Dortmund certainly gave the neutrals something to enjoy against Schalke and 19-year-old Haaland – snapped up under the nose of Manchester United – ended a lovely team move with a fitting finish in the 29th minute.
Lucien Favre’s men continued to deal with the peculiarities and pressure far better than the visitors, whose goalkeeper Markus Schubert’s poor clearance on the stroke of half-time was punished by Guerreiro.
Hazard, who only started after Gio Reyna got injured in the warm-up, added a third before Guerreiro netted his second after linking up with Haaland as the Bundesliga made a strange but seemingly successful return to action.
The shouts of staff and players echoing around gargantuan empty stadiums will never get normal, nor will the surreal sight of players emerging from team coaches in facemasks and substitutes being separated on the touchline.
Elsewhere, third-placed RB Leipzig dropped points at home but were grateful it was only two in a 1-1 draw as Freiburg were denied victory when Robin Koch’s stoppage-time goal was disallowed by VAR.
The defender was ruled marginally offside as the visitors were forced to settle for a point after Yussuf Poulsen’s 77th-minute header levelled for the hosts, who are now four points behind Bayern.
Manuel Gulde had given Freiburg a 34th-minute lead as they moved up to seventh in the table.
Daniel Ginczek struck a stoppage-time winner for Wolfsburg as they snatched a 2-1 victory at Augsburg.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) May 16, 2020
The striker pounced from close range to move the visitors up to sixth in the table after Renato Steffen’s opener.
Tin Jedvaj had levelled for Augsburg and Felix Uduokhai’s thought his header had put the hosts 2-1 ahead but was disallowed by VAR.
Hertha Berlin seemed at home in Hoffenheim’s empty PreZero Arena as a flurry of second-half goals gave them a 3-0 away win as Bruno Labbadia won his first game in charge.
Kevin Akpoguma diverted Peter Pekarik’s shot into his own net after 58 minutes before Vedad Ibisevic guided a header home to score against his old club seconds later.
Matheus Cunha made sure of the points as he cut in off the left wing to score a fine solo goal.
Fortuna Dusseldorf and SC Paderborn will both be grateful for the restart as it gives them at least the hope of climbing out of relegation trouble, though neither could take immediate advantage as they drew 0-0.
Fortuna will be the most frustrated after hitting the frame of the goal four times, the last of them a Steven Skrzybski shot which struck the left upright with nine minutes left.