Shinji Kagawa’s superb chip was not enough to prevent Borussia Dortmund drawing 2-2 at Schalke yesterday, edging Bayern Munich towards a historic fourth straight Bundesliga title.
The draw in Gelsenkirchen leaves Pep Guardiola’s Bayern seven points clear of second-placed Dortmund in Germany’s top flight with five games left.
“We’re all realistic. Bayern keep on winning and the games are getting less and less,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.
The Bavarians are hoping to become the first club to win the Bundesliga title four years in a row. “It is very likely that Bayern will be champions,” conceded Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
The Borussia boss gambled by resting star forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from his starting line-up, but was pleased with the point.
Borussia play Liverpool away on Thursday in the Europa League quarter-final return leg at Anfield, after the first match ended in a 1-1 draw.
The game at Schalke’s Veltins-Arena burst into life after a goalless first half when Japan midfielder Kagawa put Dortmund ahead with a perfectly-timed chip over Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann on 49 minutes.
It sparked Schalke into life as they equalised two minutes later when German junior international Leroy Sane, who has been linked with Manchester City, smashed home his shot.
Sloppy defending allowed Dortmund to go back in front when Schalke’s Roman Neustaedter was out-jumped by Matthias Ginter from a free-kick and the defender headed home on 56 minutes.
There was plenty of bite in the derby between the neighbouring clubs, who are only 50kms apart.
Dortmund defender Sokratis brought down Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the area on 66 minutes and the Dutch striker nailed the spot kick.
Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg, on loan to Schalke from Bayern, was lucky to escape with only a yellow card when he hacked down Mkhitaryan in the 71st minute.
Schalke replacement Max Meyer had the chance to win the game in added time when he fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
The draw leaves Schalke seventh, just outside the European places for next season, while Dortund’s 68 points from 29 league games is a club record for this stage of the season, although Bayern have 75.
In 49 of the last 52 Bundesliga seasons, their tally would have been enough to win the title outright with a month still left.
Bayern are bidding to repeat their 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles in Guardiola’s swansong before taking over as Manchester City manager.
The Bavarians play Benfica away in the Champions League quarter-final return leg on Wednesday, holding a slender 1-0 lead from the first match in Munich.
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