Bundesliga: Leverkusen falls to Dortmund after delay; Pulisic starts
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund's 1-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga was interrupted for eight minutes Sunday after the home side's coach refused to be sent to the stands.
Referee Felix Zwayer said he sent off Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt "because of repeated unsporting actions." Schmidt said later he regretted his actions, adding he had wanted an "explanation" from the ref.
The standoff was triggered by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 64th-minute goal — his 21st of the season and his 50th in 86 Bundesliga games — which was enough for second-placed Dortmund to restore the eight-point gap behind Bayern Munich.
Immediately after the goal, Zwayer sent Schmidt off for complaining vociferously over the positioning of a free kick in the build-up to the goal, when Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling lost the ball and fouled Sven Bender. Matthias Ginter took a quick free kick from where the ball rolled to Erik Durm, who crossed for the onrushing Aubameyang to finish easily.
"I was sent a signal from 45 meters that I should go to the stands. I wanted an explanation," Schmidt said. "I hesitated too long. It was definitely a mistake of mine. I didn't think the game would be interrupted. I hurt my team through that."
Zwayer, who had sent Kiessling over to talk to Schmidt, ordered both sides off the pitch and walked off himself — with his officials — when the coach made no sign of moving, prompting widespread confusion among players and fans. The pitch was left vacant for several minutes — until players and officials came back on.
Herbert Fandel, chairman of the German football federation's referee committee, said Zwayer acted according to the rules.
"When a player or even the coach refuses to leave the inner area after a sending off, stopping play and threatening to call it off is the correct decision. Whether the referee speaks directly with the coach or sends a leading player is solely at his discretion," Fandel said.
Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller saw it differently.
"To interrupt a game like that and to make things so hectic is completely unnecessary," Voeller said.
Voeller's annoyance was compounded minutes after the restart, when Dortmund defender Sokratis wasn't penalized for blocking Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez's header with his arm in the penalty area.
Zwayer acknowledged that Leverkusen should have been awarded the penalty.
"It's a foul play. It's regrettable that it wasn't seen," the referee said.
Marco Reus then missed a great opportunity to make it 2-0 to Dortmund, before Hernandez shot wide in injury time with the equalizer beckoning.
Aubameyang missed the first half's biggest chance when he fired wide after he was set up by Christian Pulisic before the break. The 17-year-old American Pulisic was making his first league start for Dortmund.
Later, Schalke ended Stuttgart's five-game winning run with a 1-1 draw, and Koo Ja-cheol's brilliant solo effort was enough for Augsburg to win 1-0 at bottom side Hannover. Koo left two defenders sprawling, then cut inside another and curled a perfect shot inside the far post in the 14th minute.
In Gelsenkirchen, Schalke winter signing Younes Belhanda scored in the 14th, only for Martin Harnik to equalize in the 74th when he prodded home the rebound after Ralf Faehrmann parried Christian Gentner's header across the face of the goal.