Borussia Dortmund led twice but were held 2-2 by bitter local rivals Schalke to lose ground on Bayern Munich who earlier won 5-3 against Augsburg and ended Saturday two points clear atop the Bundesliga.
Kenan Karaman scored Schalke’s second equaliser with 10 minutes left to frustrate visiting Dortmund’s hopes of keeping pace in the title race.
Dortmund were missing several first-team regulars due to illness and injury, including captain Marco Reus and in-form midfielder Julian Brandt.
With many attacking stars missing, it took defender Nico Schlotterbeck to put Dortmund ahead, hammering in a low drive from outside the box.
Schalke equalised five minutes into the second half through Marius Buelter, who latched onto a pinpoint cross from winger Rodrigo Zalazar.
Dortmund re-took the lead after 60 minutes, when a defence-splitting pass from Emre Can found Rafael Guerreiro who slammed home.
With 10 minutes remaining, Schalke pegged Dortmund back once more when an unmarked Karaman headed past ‘keeper Alex Meyer.
Schalke sat deep in the dying stages, frustrating Dortmund’s attempts to find a winner and held on for a draw which will be celebrated like a win by fans whose team sits in the relegation zone.
Earlier on Saturday, two goals from Benjamin Pavard and a first in Bayern colours for Joao Cancelo helped the leaders romp to a 5-3 home victory over Augsburg.
Four of Bayern’s five goals came from defenders, calming fears the side may be toothless after the pre-game scratch of striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Bayern midfielder Jamal Musiala said his side “were getting back into the swing of things” but was disappointed they conceded three goals at home after also reaching the Champions League quarter-finals with Wednesday’s win over Paris Saint-Germain.
“The start was unfortunate. We showed a good reaction. Each of those three goals were goals we shouldn’t concede,” the 20-year-old said after the win over Augsburg.
‘We were angry’
“We are angry about it. We always want to keep a clean sheet.”
Augsburg led after just two minutes through Mergim Berisha, who scored the only goal in his team’s surprise 1-0 win over Bayern in September.
Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann praised his side’s “important reaction” after the early setback, but lamented “taking our foot off the pedal at the end” of the match.
The home side upped the intensity and replied after 15 minutes through Cancelo, who scored his first goal for Bayern since joining them on loan from Manchester City at the end of January.
Pavard struck twice, the first a poacher’s finish in the box and the second an elegant chip over Augsburg ‘keeper Rafal Gikiewicz.
Leroy Sane added Bayern’s fourth on the cusp of half-time.
Berisha converted a second half penalty before Canada wing-back Alphonso Davies added Bayern’s fifth late in the match.
Augsburg’s Irvin Cardona scored a consolation goal in injury time.
Sadio Mane, making his first start since the injury in November the kept him out of Senegal’s World Cup squad, laid on two assists.
RB Leipzig climbed to third with a comfortable 3-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach at home thanks to second-half goals from Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg and Josko Gvardiol.
Eintracht Frankfurt missed a chance to put more pressure on the top four, held to a 1-1 draw at home against Stuttgart.
In the German capital, Hertha Berlin picked up a valuable point in their relegation battle, playing out a 1-1 draw against Mainz.
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