Bayern Munich welcomed back Robert Lewandowski as Hansi Flick's side resumed their Bundesliga title push at Union Berlin.

Almost two-and-a-half months since their last league outing, a 2-0 home win over Augsburg, Flick's men were back on duty in the capital on Sunday.

The break in action, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, has allowed Lewandowski to recover from a knee injury.

And the prolific Polish striker was in the starting XI for Sunday's behind-closed-doors clash against mid-table Union, leading the attack with support from Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller.

Head coach Flick, handed that post on a permanent basis since Bayern last played, was missing injured quartet Philippe Coutinho, Corentin Tolisso, Niklas Sule and Javi Martinez.

Union were without their head coach, Urs Fischer, who travelled to Switzerland during the week after the death of his father-in-law. He has since returned to Germany but must pass a coronavirus test early next week before re-joining his squad.

Bayern headed into the game with a one-point lead over Borussia Dortmund, who returned to action with a 4-0 win over Schalke on Saturday.

Cologne created a display from shirts provided by fans for their Bundesliga home game against Mainz on Sunday.

Germany's top flight this weekend returned from a two-month suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic, though all remaining fixtures will be played behind closed doors.

Cologne asked supporters if they wanted any memorabilia placed in the stands to ensure they still had some kind of presence in the RheinEnergieStadion.

The club then used the shirts, scarves and stuffed replicas of goat mascot Hennes to create a brilliant show - known as a tifo - out of the empty seats.

Alongside a trio of photographs of the end product, Cologne tweeted: "We asked #effzeh fans if they wanted to hand over their lucky scarf or kit to be placed in the stadium for the upcoming games.

"It's not the same as you being there and it never will be, but thank you."

Borussia Monchengladbach have also attempted to cover empty seats at their stadium by sticking photos of fans onto cardboard cut-outs.

Peter Bosz understood why Hertha Berlin's players celebrated in close proximity on Saturday, but the Bayer Leverkusen boss is keen not to see a repeat.

The Bundesliga returned in empty stadiums on Saturday after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Hertha recording a 3-0 victory at Hoffenheim.

However, while precautions were taken in the games - including mask-wearing substitutes sitting significant distances apart from one another - there was no social distancing being observed when Dedryck Boyata appeared to plant a kiss on the cheek of Marko Grujic after one of the goals.

The German Football League (DFL) has confirmed it will not sanction players for celebrating, though it has offered recommended guidance on the matter, and Bosz wants players to avoid letting emotions get the better of them.

"In the beginning we talked about emotions and they are part of football," he said at his news conference to preview Leverkusen's trip to Werder Bremen on Monday.

"I can imagine that when Hertha scores at Hoffenheim, that they want to celebrate. They must not do it this way. I know that.

"Next time, I don't think they'll do it that way. But goals are emotional moments in which they may have forgotten.

"You're not allowed to do that, but I can imagine that it happens from time to time."

Bruno Labbadia, who was taking charge of his first game at the Hertha helm, had suggested that the frequency of testing meant his players should be allowed to celebrate in such a manner.

"Celebrating goals is part of football. We have been tested so often that I think you can allow it," Labbadia said.

"It would be a shame if you weren't allowed to celebrate any more.

"I hope people out there understand it. It is just a recommendation [from the DFL] to hold back.

"We have tested negative six times, most recently on Friday. Emotions are part of the game, otherwise we don't need to play it."

Have Barcelona found their new Dani Alves?

According to reports in Spain, the Blagurana have identified Ajax teenager Sergino Dest as the long-term solution to their problematic right-back spot.

Despite his inexperience, it seems the 19-year-old could command a sizeable eight-figure sum.

 

TOP STORY – DEST THE BEST FOR BARCA

Nelson Semedo's proposed move to either Manchester City or Juventus looks set to pave the way for Barca to bring in a highly rated new right-back.

And the Catalan club know exactly what it will take to land their preferred target: €20million.

That is the fee Spanish newspaper Sport suggests will be enough to secure United States defender Dest when the transfer window reopens.

The Dutch-born full-back, who spurned Netherlands' interest in his international future, only recently graduated from Ajax's youth setup, making 15 Eredivisie starts before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed his breakthrough 2019-20 campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

- AC Milan are interested in Freiburg centre-back Robin Koch but the Rossoneri could face competition from Serie A rivals Napoli, claims CalcioMercato.

- Heading across town and Inter appear more interested in attacking reinforcements amid the uncertainty surrounding Lautaro Martinez. La Repubblica suggests the Nerazzurri are on the cusp of agreeing personal terms with Napoli forward Dries Mertens, who will become a free agent on June 30.

- Is a transfer battle brewing in Manchester? The Sun claims City boss Pep Guardiola wants to beat crosstown rivals United to Argentine attacking midfielder Thiago Almada, the promising Velez product said to be viewed as the successor to David Silva.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United could encounter more transfer frustration if Aston Villa continue to stand firm over their Jack Grealish valuation. According to the Mirror, relegation-threatened Villa are not prepared to budge on their £80m asking price.

- Ligue 1 heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain could move for experienced former Arsenal right-back Mathieu Debuchy, now of Saint-Etienne, to replace the out-of-contract Thomas Meunier, reports Le10Sport.

Erling Haaland confidently claimed his immediate return to scoring form came as no surprise after helping Borussia Dortmund to a big Bundesliga win over Schalke.

The 19-year-old Norwegian struck the opener in his side's 4-0 victory at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday as Germany's top tier resumed following a two-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Raphael Guerreiro added a brace either side of an emphatic Thorgan Hazard finish to complete the Revierderby rout for hosts Dortmund, who showed few signs of rust.

Haaland suggested his 10th goal in nine Bundesliga appearances was to be expected despite admitting he was not yet fully up to speed.

"Of course I'm not the same. I haven't been playing games for seven weeks, so of course not," he told the Bundesliga's official website.

"But I know I have been working hard this period and I am not surprised [to score], no."

Haaland and Dortmund benefited from a brilliant Julian Brandt display that steered the title contenders to within a point of leaders Bayern Munich.

The attacking midfielder was involved in all four goals, each of them celebrated in unusual fashion as players attempted to keep contact to a minimum.

"You have to find a way to make the most of the situation and have fun," Brandt said.

"What better way to start than with a win? Obviously I'd prefer if conditions were normal, but it is what it is.

"It wasn't a perfect performance, but I'm happy after such a lengthy hiatus."

The German Football League (DFL) has confirmed players will not be sanctioned if they do not socially distance when celebrating goals.

Questions over the issue arose after Dedryck Boyata appeared to plant a kiss on the cheek of Hertha Berlin team-mate Marko Grujic during the 3-0 win at Hoffenheim as the Bundesliga returned to action.

The act seemed incongruous considering mask-wearing substitutes were sitting significant distances apart from one another along the sidelines.

Germany's top tier resumed on Saturday after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other players kept their distance after scoring during fixtures, while some touched elbows.

However, there will be no repercussions should team-mates decide to celebrate as normal because the DFL only provided recommended guidance on the matter.

A DFL spokesperson said: "The celebration of the players is not part of the medical organisational concept of 'Task Force Sports medicine/Special league operation', which was added to the DFL rulebook on Thursday. 

"Regarding goal celebrations, they only gave advice as orientation in addition to the concept - therefore sanctions are void."

Hertha's win came in Bruno Labbadia's first game at the helm and he defended the actions of his players.

"Celebrating goals is part of football. We have been tested so often that I think you can allow it," Labbadia said. "It would be a shame if you weren't allowed to celebrate any more.

"I hope people out there understand it. It is just a recommendation [from the DFL] to hold back.

"We have tested negative six times, most recently on Friday. Emotions are part of the game, otherwise we don't need to play it."

Borussia Monchengladbach resumed their Bundesliga campaign in impressive fashion, Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram inspiring a 3-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt that lifts them above RB Leipzig.

Earlier on the Bundesliga's first day back following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig were held to a 1-1 draw by Freiburg - and Gladbach took full advantage, looking every bit Champions League hopefuls.

The hosts failed to even keep Gladbach at bay for a full minute as Plea put the visitors in front, while Thuram – a key player before the suspension in proceedings – knocked in his seventh in the league this season soon after.

Substitute Andre Silva pulled one back for the hosts late one, but Ramy Bensebaini had already effectively secured a comfortable win for Marco Rose's side with a penalty.

Frankfurt had suffered three successive Bundesliga defeats prior to the break, and within 34 seconds of kick-off that run looked destined to continue – Plea finding the bottom-left corner despite being unbalanced after a one-two with Jonas Hofmann.

It was 2-0 just six minutes later as Bensebaini turned cleverly in the box and squeezed the ball across the face of goal for Thuram to tap in.

Filip Kostic appeared the Frankfurt player most likely to instigate a revival, but his wicked 24th-minute free-kick was pushed away by Yann Sommer, whose only other first-half save kept out Almamy Toure's tame effort from a tight angle just before the interval.

Adi Hutter introduced Silva for the ineffective Djibril Sow at half-time and Frankfurt had a little more presence in attack as a result, though not to the extent that Gladbach's lead ever looked under threat.

The visitors added a third through the lively Bensebaini, who converted from the spot after Breel Embolo was barged over by Evan Ndicka.

Silva grabbed a well-taken consolation with nine minutes to go, though it failed to inspire a comeback.

 

What does it mean? Rose's men glad to be back

After getting their early lead, Gladbach never looked like dropping points here. Once they were two up, they were smart enough to become more compact while still offering a threat on the break.

Frankfurt, on the other hand, showed little creative ingenuity, their forays forward rarely causing undue worry to the Gladbach defence. Defeat means they remain just five points above the bottom three.

Double trouble for Gladbach

Thuram and Plea were both effective, getting a goal apiece. The latter arguably shaded his younger compatriot, who appeared to suffer a knock in the second half, as the ex-Nice forward also hit the post while seeing a late opportunity saved.

Sow nowhere to be seen

An anonymous first-half showing resulted in Sow's withdrawal at the break in favour of the more attack-minded Silva.

What's next?

Gladbach return home – where they will play in front of approximately 12,000 cardboard cut-outs instead of fans – next weekend, with Bayer Leverkusen the visitors. Life will not get any easier for Frankfurt in a week, however, as they go to Bayern Munich.

Julian Nagelsmann conceded RB Leipzig were not at their best as they lost further ground on the Bundesliga leaders with a 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg.

Leipzig were 1-0 down behind closed doors at the Red Bull Arena as Manuel Gulde scored with a touch of fortune from Vincenzo Grifo's 34th-minute corner.

Captain Yussuf Poulsen headed an equaliser 13 minutes from time and Nagelsmann's side passed up a host of presentable chances, although they earned a VAR reprieve when Robin Koch's stoppage-time winner for Freiburg was ruled out for a marginal offside.

Speaking to media after the match, Nagelsmann stated top form proved elusive due to the enforced break from action his team and others observed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm happy with the tempo and intensity of the game, not with the result," he said.

"We put them under a lot of pressure in the second half and created some good chances.

"It's been a long break with weeks with no training. You can't recreate the tempo of a match in training. So it hasn't really come together."

Leipzig are now four points behind second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who ran out dominant 4-0 winners over Schalke, while champions Bayern Munich will be seven points better off if they beat Union Berlin on Sunday.

"We played well, but didn't take our chances, so I've got mixed feelings," Poulsen said. "I'm happy that we didn't lose. But we really should've taken all three points."

Leipzig are back in action at Mainz next weekend.

Lucien Favre hopes the injury that robbed Giovanni Reyna of a first Borussia Dortmund start in Saturday's 4-0 Revierderby victory over Schalke is not serious.

Reyna, 17, was named in Dortmund's line-up as the Bundesliga returned from a two-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic but sustained an injury in the warm-up. He was replaced by Thorgan Hazard.

Hazard teed up the opener for Erling Haaland and scored one himself in between a double for Raphael Guerreiro, helping BVB cruise to three points at an empty Signal Iduna Park.

Schalke lost Jean-Clair Todibo to a muscular injury at half-time, while Hazard hobbled off when he was replaced by Jadon Sancho in the 79th minute.

Favre insisted the Belgium international was only struggling with cramp, but he expects a number of players will suffer from niggles as the Bundesliga gets back up and running.

"A lot of teams will have a few players who will be injured," said Favre. "We started very late with the 10 against 10 games, tackling and so on.

"I hope Reyna has nothing. It won't be long for [Axel] Witsel and [Emre] Can, [Dan-Axel] Zagadou won't play again this season.

"Marco Reus has not yet played with the team. Nico Schulz has injured himself again, he is not allowed to do anything for two to three weeks.

"Hazard only had cramp, no injury."

Dortmund players kept their distance when celebrating – a touch of elbows the most contact they made with one another – while substitutes were spaced out on the sideline and wore masks.

Favre acknowledged the atmosphere behind closed doors was unusual but was proud of the way his team performed.

He said: "4-0 against Schalke - that's quite okay. The key was that the team played well together, also defensively. That was very, very special.

"There wasn't any noise, you shoot at the goal, make a top pass, a goal - and nothing happens. That's very, very strange. We really miss our fans.

"It was a completely different game than usual. It's hard to judge how good the game was. I had the feeling that it wasn't as committed as planned. The players were very focused on their task."

An error from goalkeeper Markus Schubert preceded Guerreiro's opener, while Dortmund's last two goals came at the end of swift counter-attacks.

Schalke boss David Wagner said: "We didn't have a good game, and at really bad moments we conceded the goals. At least two goals would have been easy to defend.

"Derby defeats are unpleasant in principle, even in this bizarre atmosphere. The feeling of the second half of the season is not there yet. The situation is quite extraordinary.

"I don't think we had any major physical deficits. We had deficits in defending the right spaces."

The same, but different. It seems the best we can hope for in this new normal that nobody wanted.

For the first time since the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern Munch and Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga was at the centre of the football world on Saturday.

Tentative steps taken elsewhere, most notably in Korea, meant the global audience tuning in knew much of what to expect in terms of oddities - from players and staff arriving in masks, to their voices echoing around cavernous stadia.

But how would the football look in this setting? Would there be a pre-season feel as one of Europe's elite leagues punched below its weight?

In each of the five Saturday afternoon kick-offs, there was evidence of players feeling their way in amid peculiar circumstances.

In the Revierderby, Schalke enjoyed more territory than Dortmund during the opening minutes, attacking a Yellow Wall without a single one of its howling bricks at Signal Iduna Park.

At the Red Bull Arena, the other side rivalling Bayern for the title, RB Leipzig looked not to have missed a beat as the slickly set about Freiburg.

Those early suggestions were entirely deceptive. Never mind your latest Netflix series, the Bundesliga has you covered for sneaking, snaking plot twists.

This was a slow burning drama, with almost half an hour passing before a goal was scored. When it arrived, it came from a superstar member of the cast.

Erling Haaland's 29th-minute opener was a beautiful goal, immaculately constructed. Julian Brandt, who schemed wonderfully to befuddle the Schalke defence for much of the match, sent a cute flick into Thorgan Hazard's path.

The Belgium international's clipped cross allowed Haaland to open his body and coolly finish left footed for a 10th goal in nine Bundesliga outings. Much as crowd noise was wanting, the crunch of the ball hitting the netting was a sound to enjoy everywhere apart from Gelsenkirchen. It's still nice to see, hear and feel nice things.

Haaland's choice of celebration was a swaggering dance at an acceptable distance from his team-mates. This jarred a little, only because the teenager had just got involved in penalty area confrontation with Jean-Clair Todibo at close quarters.

Incidentally, the lack of fans meant Todibo could be heard suggesting Haaland do something unmentionable to this grandmother that would certainly be at odds with social distancing.

Pandemic-aware celebrations elsewhere saw Renato Steffen punch fists with Wolfsburg team-mates after an emphatically thumping header set their 2-1 win at Augsburg in motion, while Freiburg bumped elbows with one another when Manuel Gulde's fortuitous flick stunned Leipzig.

Captain Yussuf Poulsen equalised before Freiburg thought they had a winner, although through Robin Koch's humerus hitting happiness was short-lived due to the looming, all-knowing baddie most people can't abide – VAR, the Carole Baskin of the piece.

The more the action wore on, the easier it felt to immerse yourself in familiar story lines.

Three consecutive draws mean Leipzig's title push is spluttering, while Dortmund's is powering through the gears. Their other goals in the 4-0 shellacking of Schalke were just as easy on the eye as Haaland's.

Raphael Guerreiro was on target twice, either side of Hazard as Brandt continued to slice the visitors apart on a day when their goalkeeper Markus Schubert could scarcely have looked less composed.

At the other end of the table, Fortuna Dusseldorf hit post and bar on three occasions as they drew 0-0 with bottom club Paderborn – profligacy they will hope does not haunt them in the final analysis.

After half-time, the goals piled up alongside some clanging errors. Perhaps a by-product of fitness levels still needing to be sharpened, but maybe just football being football.

No element of the Leipzig lockdown could be blamed for Ademola Lookman's howling close-range miss, a moment when the English youngster was probably thankful no fans could offer helpful pointers.

Ihlas Bebou erred with the goal similarly at his mercy for Hoffenheim and the Dietmar Hopp financed outfit crashed further, unable to reboot from Kevin Akpoguma's own goal as Hertha Berlin stormed to a 3-0 away victory.

By contrast, Wolfsburg left it late and Daniel Ginczek gave the Bundesliga's return a stoppage-time winner.

Overall, the distraction of the strange settings did not stop this being a nice distraction. So long as risks to the health and welfare of those involved are at a minimum – and the Bundesliga has been rigorous – that feels okay.

Wonderful goals and dreadful errors, beauty and comedy, a Bundesliga title race and a relegation scrap. The same, but different and a welcome addition to the new normal.

In these unprecedented times, much was made about the uncertainties surrounding almost every facet of football, whether on the pitch or off it.

From concerns over how the coronavirus pandemic would impact football finances and the transfer market, to whether or not players would be allowed to celebrate as normal – you name it, it has been discussed at length somewhere during top-level football's hiatus.

But ahead of a joyous – yes, joyous, even without fans in the stadiums – return in Germany on Saturday, there was one fact few will have debated such was its certainty, and it did not take long for us to see the evidence.

Erling Haaland is a colossus.

The Norwegian striker's rapid rise to prominence is well-documented - there is little new to be said in that regard - but it would have been entirely acceptable to see a little rustiness after two months without any match action, competitive or otherwise.

After all, there was a lot of that to be seen in the early exchanges of the Revierderby. Dortmund were ponderous and lacking both drive and invention on the ball, quiet like the scenes in the empty stands and bearing resemblance to a training session.

But Haaland was another matter – an early burst into the box in his trademark fashion caused worry, with only a well-timed challenge from the otherwise hapless Markus Schubert in Schalke's net preventing an easy goal.

Within a few minutes he got rough with Jean-Clair Todibo in the Schalke penalty area, lashed a fine volley into the side-netting from a difficult angle and then opened the scoring.

That does not quite do the goal justice, however.

On your average highlight reel, it will not necessarily stand out, but it was a goal of sheer class, one that only a select few strikers could produce.

As he met Thorgan Hazard's fierce right-wing delivery, Haaland carefully allowed the ball to come across him and opened up his left foot, guiding an expert finish into the far side of the net in nonchalant fashion following a blistering burst to get ahead of Salif Sane.

There is a mechanical, almost robotic, sophistication to Haaland. Almost everything he does is with the objective of completing his task in the most straightforward and ruthless manner possible.

It was his 13th Dortmund goal in 12 matches, making him the quickest to that mark since 1964.

He may not possess the elaborate skills of, say, someone like Neymar, but his Terminator-like mind is ensuring Haaland remains a devastating threat.

This mindset was again noticeable for Dortmund's third goal, as he received a pass inside his own half from the excellent Julian Brandt and began marauding forward, prodding the ball past Sane as he was sent tumbling. Brandt latched on to that pass and then set up Hazard.

But like the Terminator, Haaland is also capable of finesse, a trait he exhibited with his intricate reverse pass to tee up Raphael Guerreiro's second goal in the 63rd minute.

While there was little to be surprised about Haaland's performance, being able to watch the scoring sensation in action again will have been a joy to many after a difficult few months across the world.

He's back – and so is football.

Erling Haaland's phenomenal goalscoring form continued as Borussia Dortmund comprehensively defeated Schalke 4-0 in their first game since the Bundesliga was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Haaland picked up where he left off by scoring the league's first goal, and his 13th in 12 appearances for Dortmund, following a two-month suspension in a Revierderby played out in an empty Signal Iduna Park.

Raphael Guerreiro doubled the hosts lead just before the interval following an error from the out-of-sorts Markus Schubert, and Thorgan Hazard beat the 21-year-old goalkeeper the 48th minute.

Guerreiro got a second after a one-two with Haaland as Dortmund closed the gap on leaders Bayern Munich, who face Union Berlin on Sunday, to one point.

Giovanni Reyna was set to make his first senior start for BVB but sustained an injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Hazard, with Jadon Sancho remaining among the substitutes, who sat spaced apart and wearing facing masks.

After a high-tempo start Daniel Caligiuri was denied by Roman Burki – the keeper making his 200th appearance for Dortmund – before Haaland opened the scoring.

Julian Brandt's delicate flick released Hazard and his delightful cross in behind the defence was turned home first time by Haaland in the 29th minute, with his team-mates largely keeping their distance during the celebrations. 

Lucien Favre's men doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, sweeping forward after collecting Schubert's poor clearance and seeing Guerreiro drive Brandt's pass across goal and into the bottom-right corner.

Schalke sent Rabbi Matondo and Guido Bergstaller on at the break but they quickly fell further behind when Hazard finished a swift counter-attack by firing past Schubert, who should have done more to keep the effort out.

The hosts moved completely out of sight when Guerreiro stormed forward and slotted home after an exchange of passes with Haaland in the 63rd minute.

Schalke took advantage of a rule change meaning up to five substitutions can be made but Dortmund had done enough to claim their 800th Bundesliga win in the 180th Revierderby.

What does it mean? A sign of things to come

Certain measures to avoid unnecessary contact were taken in Dortmund; those not starting the game made their way out in masks and sat on seats spread out along the sideline, while players took care not to get too close to one another when celebrating goals. There were also early muscular injuries for Reyna and Jean-Clair Todibo, who had to go off at half-time. It could well be the way football remains for the foreseeable future.

A sign of things to come

Schubert was appearing in just his seventh Bundesliga game and he was only selected due to Alexander Nubel being marginalised for agreeing a move to Bayern Munich at the end of the season. His error led to Dortmund scoring their second and he should have done better on the third too.

Brandt the real star

Haaland and Guerreiro will undoubtedly share the headlines, but Brandt was truly brilliant for Dortmund. The vision and execution he displayed in the build-up to the opener has excellent, while his pass to set up Guerreiro for the second was perfectly weighted. He also teed up Hazard to finish with a pair of assists.

What's next?

Dortmund travel to Wolfsburg next Saturday, while Schalke are in action at home to Augsburg the following day.

Erling Haaland matched a Bundesliga record with his goal in Borussia Dortmund's resounding 4-0 victory over rivals Schalke as the competition returned on Saturday.

Norway international Haaland steered home Thorgan Hazard's cross in the 29th minute to score the first goal since Germany's top flight was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

It was his 13th goal in 12 appearances in all competitions since joining Dortmund in January, making him only the second Bundesliga player to achieve that feat after Klaus Matischak for Schalke in 1963-64.

Haaland's Bundesliga record now stands at 10 goals in nine outings. Only Gert Dorfel and Paco Alcacer were able to score that many in fewer games (both eight matches).

RB Leipzig's return to Bundesliga action saw them immediately suffer a setback in the title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Freiburg, who were denied a late winner by VAR.

In the absence of spectators in their first game since the league was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Leipzig dominated matters at the Red Bull Arena.

However, Manuel Gulde's 34th-minute interlude to the near-constant Leipzig pressure looked to have secured a surprise win for Europa League hopefuls Freiburg.

Yussuf Poulsen's header in the 77th minute levelled matters but Robin Koch tucked what seemed to be a 93rd-minute winner, only for VAR to rule there had been an offside in the build-up.

The draw leaves Leipzig four points behind Bayern Munich, who have a game in hand, and three adrift of Borussia Dortmund in second place.

Leipzig were on the front foot right from the off and Konrad Laimer went close to opening the scoring in the second minute when he shot narrowly wide from outside the box.

He had been teed up by Christopher Nkunku, who then forced Alexander Schwolow into action with a powerful half-volley that was beaten away by the diving Freiburg goalkeeper.

Schwolow was needed to preserve parity again as he kept out Timo Werner's near-post effort after a rapid counter from the Leipzig talisman.

Yet for all Leipzig's opportunities, it was Freiburg who broke the deadlock with their first shot of the game, though it was debatable how much Gulde knew about it.

He diverted Vincenzo Grifo's corner beyond Peter Gulacsi to give the visitors the lead, which perhaps should have been doubled when captain Christian Gunter fizzed a shot across the face of goal.

Leipzig introduced Ademola Lookman for Nordi Mukiele and, after Marcel Halstenberg tested Schwolow from long range and Poulsen dragged a shot wide, the substitute was guilty of a shocking miss.

Lookman skewed his close-range strike from Kevin Kampl's delivery off target with the goal at his mercy, with Kampl then seeing a goal-bound effort cleared and Poulsen heading wide.

Schwolow made a fine stop with his legs to deny Lookman before further displays of inaccuracy from Poulsen and Lookman, the former redeeming himself with a towering far-post header from a Kampl cross.

Koch converted from Lucas Holer's header across goal from Gunter's free-kick, but Freiburg's celebrations proved premature as Holer was adjudged to have strayed offside.

Erling Haaland's phenomenal goalscoring form continued as Borussia Dortmund comprehensively defeated Schalke 4-0 in their first game since the Bundesliga was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Haaland picked up where he left off by scoring the league's first goal, and his 13th in 12 appearances for Dortmund, following a two-month suspension in a Revierderby played out in an empty Signal Iduna Park.

Raphael Guerreiro doubled the hosts lead just before the interval following an error from the out-of-sorts Markus Schubert, and Thorgan Hazard beat the 21-year-old goalkeeper the 48th minute.

Guerreiro got a second after a one-two with Haaland as Dortmund closed the gap on leaders Bayern Munich, who face Union Berlin on Sunday, to one point.

Giovanni Reyna was set to make his first senior start for BVB but sustained an injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Hazard, with Jadon Sancho remaining among the substitutes, who sat spaced apart and wearing facing masks.

After a high-tempo start Daniel Caligiuri was denied by Roman Burki – the keeper making his 200th appearance for Dortmund – before Haaland opened the scoring.

Julian Brandt's delicate flick released Hazard and his delightful cross in behind the defence was turned home first time by Haaland in the 29th minute, with his team-mates largely keeping their distance during the celebrations. 

Lucien Favre's men doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, sweeping forward after collecting Schubert's poor clearance and seeing Guerreiro drive Brandt's pass across goal and into the bottom-right corner.

Schalke sent Rabbi Matondo and Guido Bergstaller on at the break but they quickly fell further behind when Hazard finished a swift counter-attack by firing past Schubert, who should have done more to keep the effort out.

The hosts moved completely out of sight when Guerreiro stormed forward and slotted home after an exchange of passes with Haaland in the 63rd minute.

Schalke took advantage of a rule change meaning up to five substitutions can be made but Dortmund had done enough to claim their 800th Bundesliga win in the 180th Revierderby.

What does it mean? A sign of things to come

Certain measures to avoid unnecessary contact were taken in Dortmund; those not starting the game made their way out in masks and sat on seats spread out along the sideline, while players took care not to get too close to one another when celebrating goals. There were also early muscular injuries for Reyna and Jean-Clair Todibo, who had to go off at half-time. It could well be the way football remains for the foreseeable future.

A sign of things to come

Schubert was appearing in just his seventh Bundesliga game and he was only selected due to Alexander Nubel being marginalised for agreeing a move to Bayern Munich at the end of the season. His error led to Dortmund scoring their second and he should have done better on the third too.

Brandt the real star

Haaland and Guerreiro will undoubtedly share the headlines, but Brandt was truly brilliant for Dortmund. The vision and execution he displayed in the build-up to the opener has excellent, while his pass to set up Guerreiro for the second was perfectly weighted. He also teed up Hazard to finish with a pair of assists.

What's next?

Dortmund travel to Wolfsburg next Saturday, while Schalke are in action at home to Augsburg the following day.

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