Andriy Yarmolenko was guilty of missing several opportunities as Borussia Dortmund drew a blank against VfL Wolfsburg in their first Bundesliga match of the New Year.
They were without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, amongst others, but they created the chances to win it, with Yarmolenko particularly guilty, although Englishman Jadon Sancho impressed on his full debut for the club.
Wolfsburg had chances to win it as well, with Daniel Didavi and William both being denied by Roman Bürki.
Dortmund on top but Didavi closest to breaking deadlock
The shock team news for Dortmund was that, for a third time in little more than a year, Aubameyang was left out for disciplinary reasons, having failed to attend a team meeting on Saturday. With Christian Pulisic missing as well, youngsters Alexander Isak and Sancho made their first Bundesliga starts. Divock Origi started up front for Wolfsburg after Mario Gómez was sold to VfB Stuttgart during the winter break. New signing Renato Steffen was named as a substitute.
Dortmund were the dominant side during the first half, with Lukas Piszczek, playing for the first time since September, and Yarmolenko combining to great effect on their right. After a Yarmolenko cross towards Isak was intercepted by Maximilian Arnold, Piszczek had the first shot following the corner, although it was saved by Koen Casteels.
The two men on the right would combine for their best chance yet in the 20th minute. After receiving the ball from Sancho, Piszczek put in a cross for the Ukrainian, but it was perhaps a little heavy and he could only shoot wide. Then after a Wolfsburg attack broke down, the home side countered, however Yarmolenko was forced onto his wrong foot by William and again struck off target.
Wolfsburg had only one major chance in the opening 45 minutes but it was the best for either side. Yunus Malli cleverly back-heeled to Didavi, who looked set to score through the legs of Roman Bürki but the goalkeeper was able to make contact to keep it out. Isak then could have put Dortmund ahead, after a superb ball by Mario Götze, but his shot went wide off the post.
Yarmolenko misses sitter and William denied by Bürki
Having missed a few good chances in the first half, Yarmolenko really should have changed it soon after the resumption but was instead guilty of an even worse miss. After being found well by Isak, Götze’s excellent cross should have been turned in yet with Casteels all but beaten Yarmolenko fired over. They then came close again through Sancho, who hit the post from Shinji Kagawa’s cross.
The Wolves responded with two good chances of their own. Origi was denied in the box as his shot was saved by the on-rushing Bürki before Steffen, moments after being introduced from the bench, headed an Origi cross wide at the far post. Josip Brekalo, back with the club after being recalled from his loan with Stuttgart, could have posed a greater threat too if his delivery from out wide had been better.
That said, both sides were now attacking with equal purpose, with the visitors looking the more likely. William came mightily close to finally breaking the deadlock with a shot from virtually nowhere, but Bürki got the slightest of touches on it to keep it out. At the other end, Sancho saw a shot deflect off Paul Verhaegh, whilst Nuri Sahin nearly capitalised on a mistake by Casteels, who rushed out of his goal. The effort from distance was wide though.
Neither side was in the end able to break the deadlock, leaving Dortmund unable to improve on the fourth position they held before kick-off, whilst a more-than-respectable point for Wolfsburg leaves them where they started the weekend in twelfth.