Bundesliga return behind closed doors as memorable sights unfold

AFP
Erling Braut Haaland keeps his distance after opening the scoring in Borussia Dortmund's 4-0 win over local rivals Schalke. Photo: AFP

Germany gave football-starved fans reason to be cheerful on Saturday with the Bundesliga's return to action behind closed doors, on a day in which Borussia Dortmund hammered local rivals Schalke in an echoing Signal Iduna Park.

Here AFP looks at some of the most eye-catching things from a memorable day in the history of the sport:

Haaland keeps it socially distanced

Wonderkid striker Erling Braut Haaland began where he left off with the first Bundesliga goal of its restart after a two-month break caused by the coronavirus.

Haaland turned home Thorgan Hazard's low cross just before the half hour to open the scoring against Schalke. It was the 19-year-old's 10th goal in just nine Bundesliga appearances and set his team on their way to a thumping 4-0 derby victory.

Instead of being mobbed by jubilant teammates, Haaland made sure that they all kept their distance as he bobbed a cheeky little dance on the sidelines, in homage to the strict hygiene rules that the league has to follow.

Schalke take five

Schalke coach David Wagner became the first manager to make five substitutions in a competitive fixture after replacement rules were relaxed. Photo:  AFP

Schalke became the first team to make use of the rule change that allows five substitutions in a game, with David Wagner using the maximum number at Dortmund.

Timo Becker replaced Everton loanee Jonjoe Kenny with three minutes remaining as Schalke suffered a destruction at the hands of Lucien Favre's flamboyant side.

Favre, meanwhile, used four substitutions, with man-of-the-match Raphael Guerreiro replaced by Marcel Schmelzer in the final moments after adding to Haaland's opener with an impressive brace.

The increase in subs, approved by the game's lawmakers earlier this month, was adopted by the Bundesliga to limit the risk of injury following two months without matches.

Masked men line the dugout

Players on the bench wore masks in compliance with strict hygiene guidelines for the league's restart. Photo: AFP

As well as the unusual sight of normally packed stands shorn of the boisterous support that accompanies the Bundesliga, fans watching on TV saw players wearing masks on the sidelines.

Players on the bench wore protective masks in compliance with the stringent safety guidelines implemented to allow the Bundesliga to resume before Europe's other top leagues.

Schalke alternated players on the bench in order to respect social distancing rules while a contact sport was being played out on the field.

Bundesliga return behind closed doors as memorable sights unfold