A Robert Lewandowski hat-trick fired Dortmund level on points with leaders Schalke after a 3-1 victory on their own ground, leaving BVB perfectly poised to pull away from their rivals having two games in hand.
Four changes were made from the side that won after extra-time at Leverkusen on Wednesday night, with Lewandowski one of those. In also came Ivan Perisic for his first start of 2015 after a dislocated shoulder, while both full-backs were changed with Marcel Schmelzer back from suspension, and Andreas Beck starting too.
Lewandowski headed Dortmund in front with just six minutes played when the hosts didn’t clear a corner allowing Perisic to bend the ball back into the box where Lewandowski flicked on past David Ospina. Jefferson Farfán levelled about ten minutes later in route one style, and after Dortmund weathered a slight storm, went back in front in similar fashion when Lewandowski chipped home from a Marcel Schmelzer long-ball.
Ninety seconds later, the lead was doubled as a quick free-kick caught Schalke out down the right, and Marco Reus put the ball into the six-yard box where Lewandowski grabbed a hat-trick by slamming home at the near post.
The sides traded blows after the break, with both goalkeepers having easy saves to make when efforts were hit straight at them, but Dortmund stood strong and claim a huge three points.
One of the fiercest rivalries in German football is due to get going. A Dortmund win would put them level on points with leaders Schalke, with two games in hand. Schalke need all three points today to keep the advantage in the title race.
 Schalke kick-off!
 Chance for top-scorer Huntelaar as he sends a half-volley towards goal from twelve yards out from a lovely ball from Farfán, but it’s straight at Weidenfeller who pushes it away.
 Reus wins the first corner of the game when his run into the box is ended by a good Contento challenge. Perisic sends in an out-swinger which Schalke can only clear behind their own goal for a second.
 SCHALKE 0-1 DORTMUND: First blood goes to the holders as Schalke don’t clear the second corner as Sven Bender plays it back wide to Ivan Perisic who curls back into the box where Robert Lewandowski heads home.
 Jefferson Farfán looks dangerous down the right. Schmelzer backs off and backs off, and Farfán cuts inside the box but bends an effort narrowly wide.
 Dortmund looking strong to clear away crosses into their box.
 Sven Bender stays down after a challenge from Contento. Gingerly gets back to his feet, holds his knee, but looks like he’ll continue.
 Huntelaar has given away four fouls already against Hummels and Subotic. He’s penalised for a push on the Dortmund skipper.
 SCHALKE 1-1 DORTMUND: The lead lasts just over ten minutes as Reus is challenged in the centre circle by Zaccardo who picks out Holtby. He plays a ball over the top for Jefferson Farfán to chase onto and beat Weidenfeller.
 André Schürrle pops an effort wide from 20 yards. It’s been an interesting game so far, but the backlines of both sides holding firm since the early exchange of goals.
 Lars Bender’s error gives Huntelaar possession 20 yards out, he takes two touches to drive into the box before being denied by a fine Weidenfeller save. Höwedes rises highest at the corner but his header sails wide.
 Another corner for the hosts as Huntelaar is charged down by Hummels. Schürrle clears frm Draxler’s delivery.
 Schalke pushing hard to go in front before the break. Subotic is a lucky man as his trip on Draxler is inches outside the box.
 Holtby gets on the end of a Matip cross but he heads straight at Weidenfeller from eight yards out. Golden chance to take the lead.
 Höwedes and Matip combine to take the ball away from Lewandowski in the box, and the officials award Dortmund a corner but the visiting players think they should have had much more.
 Lewandowski has an effort charged down on the edge of the box from a neat short corner routine.
 SCHALKE 1-2 DORTMUND: A clearance is picked up in the middle third by Sven Bender who knocks it left for Schmelzer who looks up and launches a long ball forwards similar to the Schalke equaliser. Robert Lewandowski beats Matip for pace and lifts the ball over Ospina to put BVB back in front with his tenth of the season.
 SCHALKE 1-3 DORTMUND: Body-blow for Schalke as Dortmund score twice in 97 seconds, and Robert Lewandowski has a hat-trick. Draxlers fouls Beck from the kick-off, and it’s played down the right to Reus who squares for Lewandowski to slam home at the near post.
 Dortmund can smell blood, but Lars Bender grazes the top of the bar from 18 yards.
 Draxler wins a corner off Schmelzer. Subotic heads clear before Dortmund wina free-kick in their box.
HALF-TIME: FC Schalke 1-3 Borussia Dortmund.
[HT] No changes at the break for either side, but Dortmund have a big lead in what could become a title decider.
 Dortmund get the second-half under way.
 Draxler floats another corner in after Zaccardo has a shot deflected wide, but the delivery can’t beat the first man again.
 Farfán hits a pacey ball across the six-yard box but Huntelaar hasn’t made a run.
 Beck heads behind a Zaccardo cross, but Draxler’s corner is woeful and sails out for a throw.
 Schalke piling on the pressure but the Dortmund defencers are equal to everything thus far. A pair of corners are cleared behind, then away.
 Draxler gives Beck the slip but has his cross headed away by Hummels.
 Neven Subotic is cautioned after he brings down Höger as Schalke attack over halfway.
 Schürrle spots Ospina off his line but his chip drops wide.
 Change for Schalke: Kaan Ayhan replaces Neustädter (5.7).
 Reus curls a 25-yard free-kick towards goal but Ospina gets over the push it away.
 Subotic sees his header skim the bar as Dortmund work a cross back into the box when Perisic’s corner isn’t cleared far enough.
 Ivan Perisic lets fly with an audcaious half-volley which drops agonisingly wide from thirty yards.
 Double change for Schalke: On come Teemo Pukki and Sergio Escudero to replace Draxler (6.8) and Huntelaar (5.7).
 Hummels makes a last-ditch challenge on Pukkki when Höger’s through-ball almost bisects the Dortmund centre-backs.
 Sergio Contento loses possession to Reus then goes through the back of the Dortmund man and is cautioned. He picks up a one match ban.
 Great ball from Lars Bender to pick out Reus who wins Dortmund a corner. Schalke can’t clear away but the visitors fluff a shot at goal.
 Two additional minutes.
[90+3] A Reus header is tipped over by Ospina. Dortmund in no rush to take the corner, and the whistle goes as it’s eventually hammered clear.
FULL-TIME: FC Schalke 1-3 Borussia Dortmund. [PKM]
An absolutely huge win for Dortmund, with a stunning performance from Robert Lewandowski on his return to the starting XI. Ivan Perisic also put in a great shift, and manager Surman has a lovely dilemma ahead of the visit of Ajax on Thursday.
Sven Bender may miss out tough as a post-match scan shows a knock to the knee that he played through today, but he may need a fortnight’s rest.
Leverkusen lost late at bottom-club Hannover, and the advantage is now firmly with Dortmund in the title race. They move second, level on 50 points with Schalke but with an eight-goal-worse goal difference, but… BUT… Dortmund have two games in hand. Wolfsburg are third tonight, a point back, with a game in hand on Schalke.
- 12.03: Europa League 2.1 BVB v. Ajax (Signal Iduna Park)
- 15.03: Bundesliga #26 BVB v. Fortuna Düsseldorf (Signal Iduna Park)
- 19.03: Europa League 2.2 Ajax v. BVB (Amsterdam ArenA)
- 24.03: DFB-Pokal SF FC Nürnberg v. BVB (Frankenstadion)
- 01.04: Bundesliga #27 VFB Stuttgart v. BVB (Mercedes Benz Arena)