The reigning champs’ up-and-down domestic form continues as they go down narrowly in Germany’s fiercest local derby. Schalke deserved the three points thanks to a fast start that put their foes on their back heels.
Going into this one, most observers predicted a Dortmund win, but the Royal Blues were clearly pumped up to put on a show for their home fans in Gelsenkirchen.
Barely 10 minutes had passed when Atsuto Uchuida picked out youngster Julian Draxler who hammered the ball in the net. Dortmund were far from their pressing best, and Mats Hummels was having one of the worst days of his big-league career, allowing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to head in unmarked in minute 35 to make the score 2-0.
Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp's decision to omit Marco Reus looked pretty bad, and the emerging superstar was brought on for the second half, as was Nuri Sahin for Hummels, with Sven Bender moving into central defense.
Raising their game several notches after the restart gave Dortmund a lifeline just before the hour mark. Robert Lewandowski was sent through the middle, and he scored in his seventh straight match for the defending champs.
Dortmund pressed, of course, but Schalke had the better chances on the counterattack. Teemu Pukki (twice) and Jefferson Farfan both squandered open looks on goal that could have salted the match away.
At the other end, it was Lewandowski uncharacteristically firing the ball straight at the keeper three minutes from time. The 2-1 final result meant that Schalke sweep Dortmund this season, giving them unambiguous local bragging rights in the industrial Ruhr Valley and moving them – at least temporarily – to fourth in the standings.
"We were aggressive going into challenges, and we played well on top of that," Schalke coach Jens Keller said after the game. "The 2-1 came enormously early for us so I'm proud of how the guys stood tall and created counter-attacking chances."
Schalke will probably be without Huntelaar for a while, though, as the Dutch goal-getter left the match with a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Dortmund can take small consolation from the fact that they stay second, after third-placed Leverkusen lost 1-0 in Mainz. Andreas Ivanschitz scored the lone goal on a penalty.
Near sensation in Munich
Bayern came into their home match against minnows Fortuna Düsseldorf talking about the need to crush the underdogs ahead of their mid-week Champions League clash with Arsenal.
But the visitors adeptly exploited what little space Munich gave them and went ahead after a quarter of an hour, when Mathis Bolly volleyed home.
Bayern created chances by the minute but were thwarted by excellent Düsseldorf keeper Fabian Giefer and their own wastefulness. Thomas Müller blew a close-ranger in a manner worthy of Fernando Torres, before he was put through just before the half by Philipp Lahm. The midfielder tucked the ball away to restore a semblance of cosmic order on the Isar River.
But the polarity of the universe was reversed again in the second half. Bayern were initially stymied, and in minute 70, Düsseldorf lobbed a ball up half the pitch, and talismanic Fortuna captain Andreas “Lumpi” Lambertz latched on to it to give the visitors an unlikely 2-1 lead.
Yet a clearly pas amuse Franck Ribery bulled his way in front of the Fortuna goal to level things. And roughly five minutes from time, Jerome Boateng headed home a cross to give Bayern a much-harder-than-expected 3-2 win.
"We began too passively and without sufficient bite and hustle," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes complained post-match. "But the team showed excellent morale."
Düsseldorf can be proud of holding their own against the runaway league leaders and being only the second team this season to put two past Munich keeper Manuel Neuer.
Fürth fade almost out of view
Last-placed Greuther Fürth knew that they needed a win over second-worst Hoffenheim to have any chance of first division football next season. But despite a bright start for the hosts it was the visitors putting away the match early.
Roberto Firmino got Hoffenheim on their way with a goal after 10 minutes. The early deficit seemed to cut off the oxygen to Fürth's defense. Six minutes later Joselu doubled the visitors' advantage on a far-too-easy counter attack.
Any hopes of a second-half Fürth fight-back were dashed when Tobias Weis netted five minutes after the restart. The rest of the match was played on cruise-control, and with only 14 points in 25 rounds, Greuther Fürth can intensify their plans for division two.
"A 3-0 against the second worst team in the table says it all - we can start preparing for next season," Fürth President Helmut Hack said after the game, promising that a new head coach will be named next week to replace interim leader Ludwig Preis.
The three points were doubly important for Hoffenheim in the battle for the end-of-season play-off because third-from-bottom Augsburg went down to a 2-1 home defeat against Nuremberg on Friday.
In Saturday's other action, Freiburg got off to a fine start at home against Wolfsburg with a goal after only two minutes. But then the wheels came off completely, as the Wolves turned the game around and ran out 5-2 winners. Striker Ivica Olic scored a pair of goals, including one after a nifty bicycle kick.
In the late match, Bremen came out with an unusually defensive line-up in Mönchengladbach, and coach Thomas Schaaf’s version of the park-the-bus strategy worked for just over 70 minutes. But then Peniel Mlapa boxed out his defenders in front of goal and headed home a corner.
That meant Bremen had to do what they do best, attack, and only five minutes later Aleksander Ignjovski angled in an equalizer. Both teams pressed for a winner, but the match ended 1-1.
On Sunday, Hannover host Eintracht Frankfurt, who will try to reclaim fourth place. And in the late match Stuttgart take on up-and-coming Hamburg.