Champions Bayern Munich preserved their five-point lead at the Bundesliga summit with a 0-0 draw at Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s team, who are looking to win a fourth consecutive league crown, came into the game under pressure following their defeat to Mainz last time out, but had the better of the match at Signal Iduna Park.
Indeed, only impressive saves by Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki in either half from Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal respectively prevented Bayern from extending their advantage in the title race, while Arjen Robben was also guilty of missing a number of opportunities.
Thomas Tuchel’s men have now only beaten Bayern once in eight Bundesliga meetings, but in picking up a point they at least ensure the battle at the top remains competitive going into the final nine matches of the season.
Both sides had chances to strike first in the early stages. Thomas Muller should have done better with a presentable opportunity for Bayern as he shot over after a weak Burki punch, before Vidal diverted a Douglas Costa cross wide.
At the other end, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang raced into the box but saw his shot shovelled away by Manuel Neuer, while Erik Durm fired into the side netting after a sharp turn in the box.
A crucial challenge from Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich prevented Marco Reus from pulling the trigger in prime position, before Douglas Costa raced clear from Robben’s pass in a rapid counter-attack and failed to beat Burki one-on-one, with the goalkeeper’s legs rescuing his side as an end-to-end battle continued.
Burki saved Robben’s curling attempt, before the Netherlands winger fired inches wide a few moments later in a strong finish to the first half from the visitors.
Aubemeyang was denied by Neuer for a second time shortly after the break, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan unable to covert the rebound for Dortmund.
Another Robben attempt was gathered by Burki and Vidal headed Muller’s delivery just wide as Bayern searched for a potentially decisive goal in the title race.
The lively Robben was involved again shortly after, but should have done better as he blasted over from Xabi Alonso’s pass.
Guardiola’s men were continuing to look the most likely and they were so close to striking through Vidal.
Muller helped on a corner and the Chile international latched on to the bouncing ball to power in a shot from 10 yards out, with Burki making a magnificent reaction save to divert it on to the crossbar.
Aubameyang and Robben both exchanged off-target efforts and Alonso almost caught out Burki with an ambitious long-range strike as a goalless draw began to look increasingly likely.
Bayern brought on Franck Ribery, while Tuchel called on Adrian Ramos from the bench and the Colombia international headed wide from a decent chance after Aubameyang’s cross in the final minutes, but there was to be no crucial goal.