Berlin, May 16 (efe-epa).- Borussia Dortmund pounded traditional rivals Schalke 4-0 Saturday as the Bundesliga became the first of Europe’s elite soccer leagues to resume play after two months of enforced inactivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While authorities in Germany say it’s safe for players to return to the pitch, nobody is venturing to predict when the conditions will be right for fans to be back in the stands, meaning that matches will be held behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
Raphael Guerreiro had a double for the hosts in what had to be the strangest Ruhr derby ever in front of tens of thousands of empty seats at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.
The victory brings Dortmund to 54 points from 26 matches, 1 behind leaders Bayern Munich, set to face 12th-place Union Berlin on Sunday.
Schalke are eighth in the table, with 37 points from 26 matches.
Dortmund made their superiority clear from the start and it took Erling Haaland only five minutes to force an intervention by visiting goalkeeper Markus Schubert.
Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of Real Madrid’s Eden, fired over the Schalke goal from a good position two minutes later.
Schalke’s only opportunity of the first half came in the 26th minute, when Dortmund keeper Roman Bürki had to make a stop against Daniel Caligiuri.
The home side broke the deadlock in the 29th minute after Lucasz Piszczek, Julian Brandt and Hazard combined to get the ball to Haaland, who used his knee to send it past Schubert for the goal.
After missing on a chance to make it 2-0 in the 35th minute, Guerreiro made good in the final minute of first-half regulation, culminating a play that began with Haaland’s harrying Schubert into a botched clearance.
Trailing by two goals, Schalke coach David Wagner rolled the dice in the second half, making two attack-minded substitutions and changing the formation.
But instead of narrowing the deficit, the visitors found themselves down 3-0 after conceding a goal to Hazard, who got the start Saturday only because 17-year-old US prospect Gio Reyna injured himself in the warm-up.
Guerreiro got his second in the 63rd minute, converting a pass from Haaland.
While Dortmund edged closer to Bayern, Borussia Mönchengladbach pulled into third place Saturday with a 3-1 away victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Gladbach scored on their first possession, as Alassane Plea took a pass from Breel Embolo and worked a give-and-go with Jonas Hoffmann before beating Eintracht keeper Kevin Trapp barely 40 seconds after kickoff.
Still reeling from that goal, Eintracht gave up a second in the 7th minute to Marcus Thuram, who hammered home from close range off a cross from Ramy Bensebaini.
The hosts struggled to go forward and their only real chance in the opening period was on a set piece in the 23rd minute, when Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer had to be sharp to save Filip Kostic’s free kick.
Plea was poised to put the visitors up 3-0 in the 68th minute, but his shot hit the post.
Five minutes later, Bensebaini converted from the penalty spot after an Eintracht player fouled Embolo in the box, leaving the hosts trailing by three goals.
Frankfurt finally got on the board in the 80th minute with Andre Silva’s goal, creating a glimmer of hope that grew brighter in the 85th minute with a tremendous goal-line stop by defender Martin Hinteregger after a Hoffmann shot caught Trapp out of position.