Borussia Dortmund were the better side for 70 minutes but were lucky to come away with a draw after referee Felix Zwayer denied the hosts a stoppage-time penalty.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel somewhat surprisingly opted to replace the injured Erik Durm like-for-like with former Schalke youth player Felix Passlack getting his first start since November at the right wing-back position. Other than that, one could argue the fist-string XI started the game. Christian Pulisic only made the bench after coming back from international duty on Thursday.
Schalke were without arguably their best player this season, Sead Kolasinac, which would prove an advantage for Dortmund only until 77th minute – more on that later.
Dortmund started with a lot of pressure without creating any scoring chances from it, often winning the ball relatively high up the pitch but losing it before they could cause any real danger to Ralf Fährmann’s goal. Schalke predictably focused more on the transition game, heaving long balls towards physical striker Guido Burgstaller. The Austrian plucked away but showed his technical limitations in many situations. Schalke amassed three shots in the first 14 minutes but none troubled Roman Bürki.
Dortmund took over more and more as the first half went on and finally came closer to an opener, with Ousmane Dembele curling a delicate shot just to the wrong side of the post. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forced a decent save with a shot following a strong run past defender Benedikt Höwedes and minutes later saw a thumping effort deflected wide.
Overall, Dortmund were just too inaccurate in many situations to make their dominance count, with Dembele and, particularly, Gonzalo Castro wasting moments in which they had found some space.
Both teams came out of half-time unchanged and the game continued the same way the first half had ended, with Dortmund pushing for a goal and Schalke relying on last-ditch tackles and their goalkeeper. Still, it was Burgstaller who had the first real chance of the second period, but his tame effort was no problem for Bürki. Burgstaller claimed he was obstructed by Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who indeed had wrapped himself around the Austrian’s leg. It would have been a harsh decision, however.
In the immediate counter-attack, Dembele moved the ball through midfield and released Shinji Kagawa with a delightfully weighted through ball in the centre. The Japanese, who loves himself a Revierderby like few others, remained calm and squared for Aubameyang, who made no mistakes and scored a deserved opener after 53 minutes. The eccentric Gabonese celebrated with a mask this author cannot identify, so readers may judge for themselves:
What is it?
— Alex Chaffer (@AlexChaffer) April 1, 2017
Höwedes almost answered mere minutes later, but Bürki made a strong reaction save, getting a strong paw up just in time to save a free header from the Germany international. Schalke were suddenly wide open defensively and this is when Dortmund could and should have killed the game. Aubameyang was through on goal in the 57th minute but tried to square for Dembele with the outside of his foot – forgoing the opportunity to try to round the ‘keeper and score or win a penalty.
Dembele had another superb curler hit the inside of the post 16 minutes from time, which would surely have proved to be the winner for the visitors. Three minutes later, however, Schalke equalised out of the blue, with Thilo Kehrer, Kolasinac’s replacement, scoring with a grass-cutting finish from a fantastic Leon Goretzka back heel. Bürki got down as quickly as he could but his fingers were not quite strong enough to keep the effort out.
Now Schalke were really going for it despite Tuchel introducing Emre Mor for the injured Marcel Schmelzer, who looked to have suffered a painful injury to his hip or lower back. Even without true scoring chances for a while, Dortmund clearly lived dangerously as they comitted most of their players forward.
The big talking point of the game came in stoppage time, when Marc Bartra deflected a cross onto his hand. It looked a stonewall penalty live and, even though he clearly didn’t intend to hit the ball with his hand, all replay angles confirmed the assumption that Dortmund had just been incredibly lucky.
In a bizarre twist, Schalke mascot Erwin showed referee Zwayer the red card he had lost in a kerfluffle earlier in stoppage time. The 35-year-old started scribbling away and Schalke could, hilariously, have to answer for the actions of a man wearing a plush costume. Head coach Markus Weinzierl had also been sent to the stands after protesting the handball non-call too vehemently.
Zwayer 🖕 pic.twitter.com/h8Wc6HoDBp
— Johan. (@J04han) April 1, 2017
All in all, Dortmund were the better side for more than 70 minutes but the circumstances of stoppage time meant they had to be content with just one point. The loss of Schmelzer and the suspension of Sokratis against Hamburg, the Greece international had seen his fifth yellow of the season late in the second half, hurt, however.