No fans? No problem. The Bundesliga’s biggest rivalry match more than lived up to the billing as Borussia Dortmund crushed Schalke 4-0 on Saturday in German soccer’s hotly anticipated return to action amid the global coronavirus crisis.
Erling Haaland, Raphael Guerreiro and Thorgan Hazard scored goals for BVB en route to the Revierderby win, which was played inside Dortmund’s empty 81,000-seat Westfalenstadion.
Haaland, the 19-year-old Norwegian striker who has exploded onto the international scene this season, opened the scoring 29 minutes into the contest.
It was his 13th goal in 11 games since joining Dortmund in January from Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, and the first by any Bundesliga player since COVID-19 concerns shut the league down in March:
Guerreiro doubled the hosts’ advantage just before halftime, and Hazard, who only got the start after 17-year-old American Giovanni Reyna was injured during warmups, sealed the victory when he made it 3-0 less than three minutes after the break:
Guerreiro added insult to injury with his second goal of the match later in the second half.
As much as the game and the four others that kicked off simultaneously signaled a much-needed step toward normalcy for sports fans across the globe, it was impossible to ignore how much has changed. The lack of supporters made for an eerie experience on television, with the only noise being the players’ voices echoing off the abandoned stands. Substitutes and team staffers wore masks on the sidelines.
The celebrations were decidedly muted after Haaland’s opener — not just because the Dortmund faithful weren’t in the building, but also because players have been instructed not to hug or even high-five each other.
After what is usually a moment of euphoria, Haaland and his teammates made sure to observe social distancing guidelines designed to reduce the spread of the contagion:
It wasn’t a perfect game by any means. The players were rusty following such a long layoff. Fears that they’d be more susceptible to injuries because of suboptimal fitness proved well-founded; in addition to Reyna, who was denied his first Bundesliga start, Hazard had to be subbed out with an ailment of his own before it was over.
Still, it was live sports. And after more than two months without it, what a welcome sight it was for everybody. Even Schalke fans.
More from Yahoo Sports: