This will take some getting used to. The substitutes and coaches sat at metres’ distance from each other, all wearing face-masks. Pre-match festivities did not extend beyond the piping-in of music that rattled the rafters of Signal Iduna Park. The only fans visible were those featuring on video screen footage.
And the shouts of players and coaches were underlaid by the constant hum of the electrics that power a stadium built for 80,000 fans that should have filled it for the Revierderby originally scheduled to have been played in March.
Erling Braut Haaland’s 29th minute opener for Dortmund, a casual flick off Thorgan Hazard’s cross, though, was a resumption of a pre-coronavirus normality. The prolific Norwegian teenager, who had already involved himself in a running battle with Schalke defender Jean-Clair Todibo, finished a difficult chance with nonchalance, before celebrating alone in front of an empty terrace. It was just the start of his destruction of Dortmund’s rivals from Gelsenkirchen.
Haaland’s hassling of Schalke goalkeeper Markus Schubert set up Dortmund’s second. The ball was hurriedly spilled to Thomas Delaney, who set up the move from which Julian Brandt sent a surging Raphaël Guerreiro away to smash gleefully in on the stroke of half-time.
David Wagner’s Schalke had not won a match since 17 January, a nine-game streak, and their push for European football, in whatever shape that might take next season, does not look to have been revived by a break. They were sluggish, one-dimensional and lacked the quality in attack to trouble a defence expertly marshalled by veterans Mats Hummels and Lukasz Piszczek.
Far quicker to find their step after the unfamiliarity and tentativeness of the opening 10 minutes or so, Dortmund eventually dominated their opponents despite a list of absentees that included club captain Marco Reus, Axel Witzel and Emre Can. Having passed his 20th birthday during the lockdown, and set to be the subject of speculation whenever the transfer window opens, Jadon Sancho did not make an appearance for Dortmund until coming off the bench in the 79th minute.
That opened up a first ever starting place for Giovanni Reyna, son of Claudio Reyna, the former USA captain, only for the 17-year-old to suffer an injury in the warm-up. Instead, Hazard stepped into a Dortmund attacking trident that caused huge problems to static Schalke.
Until Sancho’s arrival, it was left to Schalke’s Jonjoe Kenny, loaned from Everton, to represent England in European football’s return to action beyond the borders of Belarus; Welshman Rabbi Matondo also came on for Schalke at the start of the second half. Kenny was the first player to be examined by a VAR decision, the ball having hit one of his hands in the penalty area after Haaland’s attempt to hook the ball towards goal though no penalty was given.
Haaland’s desire to add to the 12 goals he had scored for Dortmund since his January arrival was apparent from the start but he was also happy to play provider. It was another of his interventions that set up the move for Dortmund’s third. Haaland was far braver than Salif Sané in the tackle after a Schalke move broke down, and the ball came to Brandt, who set up Hazard to score past Schubert three minutes after half time.
After Guerreiro was again sent clear to score Dortmund’s 63rd-minute fourth, with Haaland supplying the final pass beyond a malfunctioning Schalke offside trap, the Portuguese midfielder and Norwegian forward celebrated together, though at social distance, sticking to the guidelines that have allowed the return of professional football to Germany.