Dortmund blew its chance to climb the Bundesliga table after losing to Schalke in the Revierderby.
Schalke 04 have increased its lead in the Bundesliga table over local rivals Borussia Dortmund thanks to a 2-0 victory in the Revierderby on Sunday—their first derby win since 2014.
The Royal Blues were looking to bounce back quickly after suffering a shock defeat to Hamburger SV last week, and goals from Yevhen Konoplyanka and Naldo has all but confirmed that Domenico Tedesco's side will qualify for the Champions League next season.
Dortmund still remains in the top four places with just four games left this campaign, but TSG Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig are all within touching distance in the race for European football.
Hopes were high ahead of kick-off and most supporters expected to see an end to end match, with the frantic 4-4 draw between Dortmund and Schalke back in November still fresh in the memory of both sets of fans.
A sloppy pass from Thilo Kehrer almost offered Christian Pulisic a chance within the first 40 seconds of the game, while Alessandro Schöpf forced Roman Bürki into an outstanding fingertip save after five minutes.
Guido Burgstaller had a number of half chances over the course of the half as both sides continued to play on the front foot. Marco Reus tested the reactions of Ralf Fährmann with an audacious long-range free-kick but Dortmund failed to create any clear chances throughout the first 45 minutes.
Konoplyanka was able to carve open one more chance before the break but his curling effort flew inches wide of Bürki's far post and both sides were level at halftime.
Despite failing to make its chances count in the first half, Schalke needed just four minutes to take the lead after the break. The Royal Blues' hard-working winger Daniel Caligiuri released Konoplyanka in yards of space and the Ukraine international strolled into the penalty area before firing a left-footed strike powerfully past Bürki.
Dortmund looked to respond quickly and despite keeping the hosts pegged back for a number of minutes, Peter Stöger's side quickly lost their momentum and Schalke regained the upper hand.
Austrian striker Burgstaller continued the threaten Dortmund's back line, with deep runs from Amine Harit and Leon Goretzka creating more opportunities by stretching the visitors' defense.
Reus had been a passenger for most of the game but he was able to test Fährmann once again with a left-footed effort from inside the area. The Germany international then teed up Pulisic with a powerful cross but the 19-year-old was unable to direct his effort towards goal.
Substitute André Schürrle threatened Schalke's defense throughout the second half but the former Chelsea forward was having little joy against the veteran center-back Naldo.
And it was the hosts' resilient defending that allowed Tedesco's side to break forward on more than one occasion in the last few minutes of the game.
After winning a late and seemingly innocuous free kick 25 yards away from goal, Naldo stepped up and fired a thunderous trademark free-kick past Bürki to ensure all three points stayed at the Veltins-Arena on Sunday.
Dortmund continued to push for an equalizing goal before the final whistle and they came close with Schürrle, but Schalke was able to hold on for a deserved win in the Revierderby, keeping their 12th clean sheet of the campaign.
Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi could be in danger of missing the World Cup, after suffering a reported fractured ankle following a tackle from former Tottenham midfielder Benjamin Stambouli in injury time, ending what has been a horrible weekend for Dortmund fans.
Sport Bild are reporting that the Chelsea loanee left the Schalke Arena on crutches, and early signs suggest that the player may have fractured his ankle.
"We hope that it is not so bad," said coach Peter Stöger in the post-match press conference. "But we have to wait for the exact investigation."
Batshuayi has scored seven goals for Borussia Dortmund in the league since his loan move from Chelsea in January. His injury is a major setback for the German side's hopes of Champions League qualification, who currently sit in fourth spot in the Bundesliga, level on 51 points with third-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
Batshuayi will be hopeful the news isn't as bad as expected though, as it may spell disaster for the 24-year-old's dreams of going to Russia for the World Cup.
The injury may even spell an end to any possible move away from Chelsea in the summer, after the striker has failed to hit form for the London club.