No goals for Bayern or Dortmund on Saturday, as the top Bundesliga clubs fought tough matches against Leverkusen and Berlin, respectively. Elsewhere, Julian Draxler failed miserably in his return to Gelsenkirchen.
Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Bayern Munich
Leverkusen showed up in a big way to take points away from the Bundesliga leaders, pressing Bayern nearly to a pulp to see out the scoreless draw. With several Bayern defenders - inclucing recently added Serdar Tasci - unavailabe, Leverkusen had a distinct height advantage, but Toprak could not make the most of it against Kimmich on a corner. Leverkusen tirelessly moved up and down the flank to squeeze chances away from Bayern, and it wasn't until a second half tactical switch when Bayern were able to get chances. Thomas Müller (off the bench) and Robert Lewandowski could not add to their goal totals, the former missing chances around the hour mark. Bayern's defense kept the clean sheet despite not putting in their best performance, and the defending champions maintained their eight-point lead over second place Dortmund.
Hertha Berlin 0-0 Dortmund
In Saturday afternoon's marquee matchup, second-place Dortmund was in control throughout the match, but the men in yellow were ultimately unable to capitalize on a slew of chances against third-place Berlin. It was only the sixth time this season that BVB dropped points.
Last week, Dortmund went scoreless until the 77th minute, but last week BVB were able to get the late goal. It wasn't to be for Dortmund this time around. BVB trainer Thomas Tuchel and his men, who incidentally were being watched by former Chelsea and Real Madrid trainer Jose Mourinho sitting in Berlin's Olympic Stadium, were just about highlightless in the first half, mustering just four shots, none of which were on target.
Schalke 3-0 Wolfsburg
(Huntelaar 25', Geis 35', Schöpf 87')
If there were a symbol for the storyline of this matchup, it most certainly came in the 25th minute. Julian Draxler, playing for the first time in Gelsenskirchen since leaving the royal blues last season, fired a shot on goal that was snatched up by Schalke keeper Ralf Fährmann. Not wasting a second to turn the action in the other direction, Fährmann rolled it out to Junior Caicara, who found an advancing Klaas Jan Huntelaar. The Dutchman walked it down the field and sniped from 20 meters out, just out of reach of a diving Diego Benaglio, making it 1-0 in the Ruhr.
No more than 10 minutes later, another diving attempt by Benaglio was futile on a curling free kick 26 meters out from Johannes Geis. Down 2-0 at this point, Wolfsburg - with or without Draxler - looked like it had had its wind surgically removed.
Both teams were all but lifeless in the second half, with Schalke looking a lot like it was resting on the laurels of the first half. The Wolves weren't able to apply enough pressure to take advantage or stage a comeback. A third goal for the Royal Blues came two minutes before the end of regulation, Alessandro Schöpf smacking in the first-ever Bundesliga goal.
Schalke jumps to fourth in the standings with 33 points; Wolfsburg drops to eighth at 27 points.
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-4 Stuttgart
(Gentner 27', Didavi 45+1', Niedermeier 65', Kostic 76 - Meier 52', Huszti 90')
By far the most exciting game on Saturday afternoon in the Bundesliga, this matchup saw Stuttgart dominate throughout, but not without Frankfurt scratching its way back on more than one occasion.
In the 27th minute, Stuttgart's Lukas Rupp from midfield played the leather past two Frankfurt defenders, eventually finding team captain Christian Gentner who made easy work of the 1-0 past Frankfurt goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky. A minute over time at the end of the first half, Stuttgart's Daniel Didavi tapped a corner home from the middle of Hradecky's box, following a smooth header dish from Georg Niedermeier, making it 2-0.
A rebound goal in the 52nd minute provided early hope for Frankfurt that the tables could be turned in the second half. A cross from Yanni Regäsel placed perfectly on the head of Stefan Aigner was stopped by keeper Przemyslaw Tyton, only to be stuffed home by Alexander Meier.
But Georg Niedermeier provided cushion for Stuttgart, heading a cross from Gentner with force to boot. This is all the VfB would need to hold on for their fourth straight win (most consecutive since 2011), taking Stuttgart well out of relegation zone from 15th to 11th in the standings.
The nail for Stuttgart then came after a penalty - buried by Filip Kostic - on Artem Kravets brought Kostic down just to the left of Hradecky. One minute before regulation, Huszti delivered a snipe that gave Frankfurt hope for a desperation goal in stoppage time, but alas it wasn't to be.
Throughout Saturday's contest, if it seemed something was missing for Eintracht, perhaps it was the support in the fans section at the Commerzbank-Arena. Following the debacles against Aue on October 27 and Darmstadt on December 6 last year, when Frankfurt fans fired flares and even burned Darmstadt flags, the DFB fined the club 75,000 euros and ordered the fans section closed for this match against Stuttgart.
Ingolstadt 2-1 Augsburg
(Matip 54', Hartmann 85' - Stafylidis 14')
In their second meeting in this Bundesliga season, Ingolstadt got the better of Augsburg. Augsbrug right back Konstantinos Stafylidis opened the score early, notching his first-ever Bundesliga goal in downright gorgeous fashion.
The goal, described by Sky commentators time and again as a "dream," was equalized in this Bavarian derby in the 60th minute by Marvin Matip, perhaps equally dreamy. A Pascal Groß corner was double-headed, first Roger and then Matip, off the crossbar and in past Norwegian keeper Örjan Nyland. Ingolstadt jumped ahead just in the final stages of the game with a penalty that was buried in the 85th minute by Moritz Hartmann.
Hanover 0-1 Mainz
Saturday's matchup in Hanover, if nothing else, was proof of the efficiency of Mainz 05. The side have scored two goals in the last five weeks, and they have two wins to show for it, winning last week 1-0 over Gladbach. Jairo Samperio scored the only goal of the match, tapping the score in from close range off of a Mainz corner. Mainz move up to seventh in the standings. Hanover is now at the very bottom of the Bundesliga.