Berlin, Feb 22 (IANS) Dortmund reaped their second straight victory with a narrow 1-0 win over German football rivals Leverkusen while Stuttgart secured a late 1-1 draw at Schalke to close the 22nd round of Bundesliga.
Leverkusen could not beat Dortmund on home soil as the ‘Werkself’ wait since May 2007 for a triumph in front of their home crowd. Dortmund’s top striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game to ensure the 16th win of the season on Sunday, reports Xinhua.
Both teams staged a fast-paced first half but both defence lines choked off offensive actions as soon as the goal area was approached. Thus, clear-cut opportunities remained a rare occurrence in the first half.
However, things changed with the interval as both coaches made amendments. Dortmund’s Tuchel replaced debutant Christian Pulisic with Marco Reus whereas Leverkusen’s Schmidt fielded Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Andre Ramalho for Omer Toprak and Kevin Kampel respectively.
Leverkusen as well as Dortmund increased their offensive efforts. As a result, Karim Bellarabi tested Dortmund custodian Roman Buerki with a long-range shot before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang broke the deadlock with 64 minutes into the game. The Gabon international capitalised on a fast break following a free-kick to slot home into the open goal.
Dortmund’s opener caused heated discussions with Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt, who refused to leave the pitch, forcing referee Felix Zwayer to interrupt the game for 10 minutes, which was a novelty in Bundesliga history.
Leverkusen remained unimpressed by the unforeseen break and turned up to press the visitors into defence. The ‘Werkself’ were very unfortunate as referee Zwayer oversaw a handball by Dortmund defender Sokratis inside the box (71st minute).
However, Leverkusen kept it bowling but missed two promising chances to restore parity through Javier Hernandez in the closing period. With the result, Dortmund remain in second place with an eight-point deficit to front-runners Bayern Munich as Leverkusen slipped to fifth after suffering the seventh loss of the season.
Elsewhere, Schalke were unable to protect their narrow 1-0 lead to the end as Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik cancelled out Younes Belhanda’s first-half opener. The ‘Swabians’ snatched one point on the road to extend their unbeaten run. Schalke slumped to sixth place whereas Stuttgart slipped to 11th.
Augsburg inflicted Hannover the fifth straight loss to increase the relegation worries of the ‘Reds’. Ja-Cheol Koo’s first-half winner was enough to sew up Hannover’s 16th loss of the season. Hence, Hannover remain in the Bundesliga bottom with 14 points from 22 matches while Augsburg jumped to 13th.