Borussia Dortmund earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in a game which saw the referee suspend proceedings following Roger Schmidt's refusal to accept his sending off.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang's 31st goal of the season settled a feisty clash at the BayArena as Dortmund moved back to within eight points of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.
But the main talking point was referee Felix Zwayer's decision to suspend play midway through the second half, shortly after Aubameyang's goal, in response to Leverkusen coach Schmidt's refusal to leave the dugout.
Schmidt was ordered to the stands for dissent in the wake of what proved to be Dortmund's winner in the 64th minute and when he showed no inclination to leave the technical area, the referee took the decision to take the teams off.
Play eventually resumed after 10 minutes, but despite applying some concerted late pressure, the home side were unable to find an equaliser.
With both sides perhaps jaded by their midweek Europa League exertions, the game was a largely turgid affair that was ultimately decided by a typical Dortmund breakaway as Marco Reus squared for Aubameyang to seal the points.
An extremely cagey opening quarter yielded almost nothing in the way of goalmouth incident, with the exception of Jonathan Tah's header from a Javier Hernandez corner which was comfortably claimed by Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki.
Omer Toprak also managed to get on the end of a corner on 33 minutes, but his effort was a tame one and Burki was again able to make the simplest of saves.
At the other end, the in-form Aubameyang cut a largely anonymous figure right up until the final minute of the half when he was picked out by Christian Pulisic, only to drag his low shot wide of the post.
The second half, in contrast, opened brightly with the first goal almost arriving in the 50th minute.
Hernandez was the architect, creating a shooting opportunity for Karim Bellarabi with a clever backheel, but the German international saw his 15-yard strike palmed around the post by Burki.
And that save proved crucial as second-half substitute Reus escaped down the left and squared for Aubameyang, who sidefooted home from close range to seal his side's seventh away league win of the season and extend an unbeaten record at the BayArena that dates back to 2007.
As Schmidt protested against what he felt had been a foul in the build-up, Zwayer sent Stefan Kiessling over to the touchline, seemingly in a bid to calm the Leverkusen coach, whose refusal to go to the stands resulted in the official leading the teams from the field.
After the teams returned, Leverkusen continued to look the more likely and went close again when Kiessling's header flashed just wide of the post.
A cross-shot from Bellarabi also went close for Schmidt's men, but they were nearly hit by a second sucker punch right at the death as Reus broke through only to be foiled by Bernd Leno.
Key Opta stats:
- Dortmund have not lost in Leverkusen since May 2007 – BVB had 4 wins and 5 draws since then.
- BVB gained 13 of the 15 possible points in 2016 and is the best second place team in Bundesliga history after 22 games.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 50th goal in the 86th game – this is nearly as fast as Gerd Müller did (83th game).
- BVB have scored in 21 of their 22 games this Bundesliga season, every other team has failed to score at least two-times in 2015/16. Only in 1963/64 Dortmund have scored more goals after 22 matches (57) than in this season (54).
- Dortmund did not concede a goal in his last 4 BL-games – this is the best series for BVB since april/may 2009.
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