Borussia Dortmund's Bundesliga title hopes took another blow Monday in a goalless draw at last-place Nuremberg. As Bayern play catch, Dortmund are losing a chance at hand to end the dominance imposed by the Bavarians.
Nuremberg goalkeeper Christian Mathenia made a host of saves to deny Dortmund a first win in three league games. The Bundesliga leaders have now drawn three successive games and have seen their lead whittled down from nine points in the 15th round to three over six-time defending champion Bayern Munich.
The first half was marked by protests from the home fans against Monday night games, with supporters holding signs showing raised middle fingers and a huge banner criticizing the German soccer federation, the German soccer league "and co." for making Nuremberg play on a Monday night for the second time this season.
The game was held up on a number of occasions when fans threw black tennis balls onto the pitch during Dortmund corners. The visitors were particularly aggrieved when referee Harm Osmers blew for half time before Dortmund could take its fourth corner as it had been held up by another barrage of balls.
Dortmund had toiled to break through Nuremberg's tight defence, frustrated that Osmers did not call some questionable-looking challenges.
Maximilian Philipp tried his luck from distance, but it was Nuremberg captain Hanno Behrens who had the first big chance in the 28th minute when he was denied by a reflex save from Roman Buerki. Behrens also went close from the resultant corner.
Mathenia then made three good saves in quick succession to deny Mario Goetze. Axel Witsel went close for Dortmund before the break before Mathenia again denied Goetze.
Goetze was again thwarted by another save from Mathenia early in the second half, and the trend was to continue with the visitors dominating possession but struggling to find a way through.
Dortmund's Jacob Bruun Larsen thought he scored late but the goal was ruled out as fellow substitute Paco Alcacer had strayed offside before setting him up.
Dortmund has now failed to win any of its last five competitive games.
Nuremberg was playing its first game under interim coach Boris Schommers after it sacked Michael Koellner on Tuesday.