Dortmund - Ralf Fährmann pulled off several outstanding saves as Borussia Dortmund were held to a goalless draw by FC Schalke 04 in a pulsating Revierderby at Signal Iduna Park.
The Schalke keeper managed to keep out efforts from Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Robert Lewandowski as the Royal Blues frustrated their hosts to earn a share of the spoils in the 144th meeting between the two sides, on the same night that FC Bayern München sealed their 23rd Bundesliga title.
Both sides spurned excellent opportunities to take an early lead in a frantic opening ten minutes in North Rhine-Westphalia. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who had scored six goals in three games leading up to Tuesday’s clash, fired over from close range after Sead Kolasinac had picked out the Dutchman with a low cut-back, before Marco Reus’ cross was headed wide by an unmarked Lewandowski at the other end.
The Royal Blues had won seven of their nine league encounters prior to the derby - their only defeat coming against Bayern at the beginning of March - and as the first half wore on, Jens Keller’s team began to demonstrate why they are one of the best in the country based on current form, spreading the ball about confidently against a BVB side that had only won two of their last seven league matches on home soil. It was Dortmund, however, who almost took the lead against the run of play when Mkhitaryan’s cross towards the near post was turned just wide by Sebastian Kehl.
Fährmann rescues Schalke
Mkhitaryan then went close himself as the hosts gradually began to gain the upper hand. The Armenian international let fly from the edge of the penalty area, only to see his effort tipped around the post by Fährmann. BVB's no. 10 was visibly growing in confidence as half-time approached: the 25-year-old nearly set up Reus for the opening goal six minutes before the break, but the Germany international’s volley bounced just wide of the far post with Fährmann beaten. The Schalke stopper then had to be at full stretch to palm Reus’ goal-bound effort to safety in first-half injury time as Dortmund ended the first half in the ascendency.
Jürgen Klopp’s team almost made the perfect start to the second 45 minutes, and Reus was again involved as he flicked Kevin Großkreutz’s cross into the hands of Fährmann. Die Knappen were struggling to cope with the creativity of Reus and Mkhitaryan, and the duo combined once more to set the latter free down the left, but the former FC Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker’s cross evaded the onrushing Lewandowski and Schalke were able to clear.
Fährmann was called into action once more halfway through the second period when he managed to claw the ball from Lewandowski’s feet after the Polish international had fought his way through the Schalke defence. The 25-year-old keeper then pulled off another outstanding stop to thwart Reus, whose header from inside the penalty area looked as though it might sneak inside the near post.
Dortmund continued to lay siege to the visitors’ goal as the clock ticked down and Mkhitaryan finally managed to beat Fährmann with 15 minutes remaining but, unfortunately for the Armenian, his effort flew inches wide of the post. BVB were almost made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal, but Roman Weidenfeller saved well from Kevin-Prince Boateng in what turned out to be the game’s final opportunity of note, as Dortmund remain a solitary point ahead of their bitter rivals in second place.
Line-ups and statistics
Take a look at depth of feeling involved in the Revierderby on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: