Borussia Dortmund returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga in emphatic style on Matchday 22 with a thumping 4-0 win away to fierce local rivals Schalke, but it was Erling Haaland, and his first of two goals in particular, that grabbed the headlines.
BVB have slid down the table in recent weeks, winning just one of their six league outings preceding Saturday’s trip to Schalke, but served a reminder to their local neighbours that they remain the Ruhr region’s top dogs, scoring twice in each half to condemn the struggling Royal Blues to a 15th defeat of the season.
And Haaland was instrumental in that. Schalke had fought doggedly for much of the first half, but Jadon Sancho’s opener on 42 minutes had given Dortmund a deserved lead before Haaland set his seal on the game on the stroke of half-time.
Watch: Highlights of Dortmund's win over Schalke
Standing at 6'4" and weighing 194 pounds it is usually not a fair fight for defenders, but if not all players are created made equal, neither are all goals.
Seeing Sancho receive the ball on the left-hand edge of the Schalke penalty area, Haaland instantly began to peel away from his marker, Bastian Oczipka. Sancho spotted it and floated a cross towards his teammate, who hung in the air before executing a sublime sideways scissors-kick with his left foot into the net from 16 yards.
“It was a nice goal,” Haaland told bundesliga.com afterwards, with heavy understatement. “Obviously it was a good assist from Jadon. We try to work a lot and it’s a pleasure to play with this guy.”
Asked whether he had developed a taste for the spectacular from a fellow Scandinavian striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 20-year-old responded with a laugh: “Maybe. Maybe I’m learning a bit from him!”
Watch: Haaland: "It was a nice goal"
After Raphael Guerreiro gave Dortmund a three-goal cushion in the second half, Haaland registered his brace to round off the scoring in the 79th minute.
It was the 10th time in his 32nd Bundesliga outing that the Norway international has scored at least twice - six of which have come this season alone. Not only that, but Haaland has now scored 43 times in 43 competitive games for Dortmund since joining in January last year.
“He’s a goal machine,” said Sancho at the final whistle. “I’m happy to assist his crazy goal, his first goal. On the training pitch, me and Erling work together so hard so I’m wasn’t surprised that he’s able to do some of the things he does on the pitch. He deserves all the credit.”
Captain Marco Reus was equally emphatic in praising the Dortmund forward: “His goal was obviously sensational. It was very important to take the lead and to go 2-0 up.
“Erling’s a machine,” the 31-year old continued. “He’s so hungry for goals and you can see that in every game. His positive energy out on the pitch pushes us on. It does us a lot of good and we hope he can keep going and keep scoring in our coming games.”