Borussia Dortmund missed the opportunity to move five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga as they were held 0-0 away at bottom side Nürnberg.
Dortmund dominated the opening exchanges but failed to create anything of note inside the opening quarter of an hour, remaining patient in possession but often struggling to find the key final pass to unlock a resilient Nürnberg defence.
BVB eventually created a goal-scoring opportunity after 33 minutes with Jadon Sancho at the heart of the attack. The youngster's mazy run into the box was halted by a defender with the ball falling into Mario Gotze's path, but the German's double effort was matched by Christian Mathenia in goal, who did superbly to keep the scores level.
Minutes before half-time, the same trio were involved in another Dortmund chance. A corner from Sancho was met by the head of Gotze at the near post, which looked destined for the top corner, only for Mathenia to acrobatically save and send the teams in level at the interval.
Dortmund started the second half with much more intensity, but again were frustrated by Mathenia who denied Gotze once more, as well as keeping out a Thomas Delaney effort. With 65 minutes gone, Favre turned to impact-sub Paco Alcacer in an attempt to breach a stern and compact defence.
It was the Spaniard that had the next presentable chance, but could only head over the bar following a Marius Wolf cross with just 15 minutes to play. Just three minutes from time Dortmund thought they had a winner after Sancho slipped through Alcacer, who squared the ball for Bruun Larsen to tap home, however the Spaniard was adjudged to have been offside in the build up.
Starting XI: Mathenia (8), Valentini (7), Muhl (6), Ewerton (6), Leibold (7); Pereira (6), Behrens (7), Petrak (6), Lowen (6); Kubo (5), Zrelak (6).
Substitutes: Ishak (6), Bauer (6), Palacios-Martinez (N/A).
Key Talking Point
Dortmund are finally enduring a 'sticky patch' after an electric start to the season that saw them pull clear of the chasing pack in the Bundesliga. However, Lucien Favre's men were without a win in four before tonight; drawing consecutive games in the league, exiting the DFB Cup and being torn apart by a rampant Spurs side in the Champions League.
The pressure, for the first time this season, was really on. Favre would have been expecting a big reaction from his players, especially playing against the Bundesliga's bottom side. The pressure was seemingly getting to an inexperienced Dortmund side as they failed to break down Nürnberg in the first-half.
The second-half was much of the same, BVB dominated much of the possession but failed to create anything of note - a Gotze strike aside. Favre is desperately missing his captain and talisman Marco Reus who will need to regain fitness sharpish if Dortmund want to maintain their title charge.
Starting XI: Burki (6); Wolf (6), Diallo (6), Zagadou (6), Guerreiro (5); Weigl (5), Delaney (6), Witsel (5), Sancho (7), Gotze (6), Phillip (5).
Substitutes: Alcacer (6), Bruun Larsen (6).
STAR MAN - Jadon Sancho
During a night where many of Favre's side underwhelmed, it was Sancho that was a shining light - particularly in the first half. The young Englishman was electric as he created three brilliant opportunities for Gotze, whilst also performing an audacious piece of skill to nutmeg the unfortunate Zrelak in the first period.
Sancho is crazy good, paco is prolific, Gotze looking half decent again, Akanji and Zagadou both like 22 ffs— la pioche (@Iucozaid) February 18, 2019
Dortmund return to Bundesliga action on Sunday as they aim to extend their lead over Bayern Munich when they host Bayer Leverkusen in an evening kick-off (17:00 BST).
Nürnberg will be desperate to pick up three points next Saturday as they travel to play Fortuna Dusseldorf (17:00 BST), a game that could go a long way to deciding the club's fate this season.