BERLIN: Shinji Kagawa’s superb chip was not enough to prevent Borussia Dortmund drawing 2-2 at Schalke on Sunday (Monday in Manila), edging Bayern Munich towards a historic fourth straight Bundesliga title.
The draw in Gelsenkirchen leaves Pep Guardiola’s Bayern seven points clear of second-placed Dortmund with five games left.
The Bavarians are hoping to become the first club to win the Bundesliga title four years in a row.
“It is very likely that Bayern will be champions,” conceded Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
The Borussia boss gambled by resting star forwards Pierre-Emerick Auba¬meyang, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from his starting line-up, but was pleased with the point.
Borussia play Liverpool away on Thursday in the Europa League quarterfinals return leg at Anfield, after the first match ended in a 1-1 draw.
The game at Schalke’s Veltins-Arena burst into life after a goalless first half when Japan midfielder Kagawa put Dortmund ahead with a perfectly timed chip over Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann on 49 minutes.
Schalke equalised two minutes later when German junior international Leroy Sane, who has been linked with Manchester City, smashed home his shot.
Sloppy defending allowed Dortmund to go back in front when Schalke’s Roman Neustaedter was out-jumped by Matthias Ginter from a free kick and the defender headed home on 56 minutes.
There was plenty of bite in the derby between the neighboring clubs, who are only 50kms apart.
Dortmund defender Sokratis brought down Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the area on 66 minutes and the Dutch striker nailed the spot kick.
Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg, on loan to Schalke from Bayern, was lucky to escape with only a yellow card when he hacked down Mkhitaryan in the 71st minute.
Schalke replacement Max Meyer had the chance to win the game in added time but he fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Dortund’s 68 points from 29 league games is a club record for this stage of the season, although Bayern have 75 while the draw leaves Schalke seventh, just outside the European places.
In 49 of the last 52 Bundesliga seasons, Dortmund’s tally would have been enough to win the title outright with a month still left.
Bayern are bidding to repeat their 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles in Guardiola’s swansong before taking over as Manchester City manager.
The Bavarians play Benfica away in the Champions League quarter-final return leg on Wednesday, holding a slender 1-0 lead from the first match in Munich.
Mexico striker Javier Hernandez scored his 16th league goal of the season in Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-0 win at Cologne in the Rhine derby.
The victory lifted Leverkusen to fourth and into the Champions League places for next season.
After junior Germany international Julian Brandt put Leverkusen ahead, ‘Chicharito’ slotted home from close range just before the break.
There was a bad-tempered end during the seven minutes of added time as Cologne’s Leonardo Bitten¬court was sent off for bringing down Swiss striker Admir Mehmedi.
In the heated exchanges immediately after, Leverkusen’s Brazil defender Wendell was shown a second yellow card, and subsequent red, for grabbing a Cologne player by the throat.
Bayern and Dortmund have already qualified from the Bundes¬liga for next season’s Champions League.
But Hertha Berlin, Leverkusen, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Mainz and Schalke are all fighting for third place, which carries a direct place, while fourth carries a play-off place.