The knot has burst: Schalke 04 has finally returned to the relegation battle with the first Bundesliga victory in three and a half months. On Saturday evening, the bottom of the table won the important duel with direct rivals VfB Stuttgart 2:1 (2:0) and draws undefeated in the second half of the season new hope.
The team of coach Thomas Reis now has the great chance to add next weekend at his former club VfL Bochum and leave the last place in the table, on which the relegated team has been continuously since the eleventh matchday.
After four goalless draws before, Dominick Drexler (10th minute) ended the 62-minute slump in front of 271,414 spectators in the sold-out Schalker Arena. Marius Bülter (40.) artistically increased to 2:0. Most recently, the Royal Blues had won against Mainz (9:1) on 0 November. In the 100th Bundesliga duel between the two traditional clubs, Borna Sosa's goal (63rd) was not enough for VfB after a serious goalkeeping error by Schalke's Ralf Fährmann.
Stuttgart with many mistakes
With 16 points, Schalke is only three points behind Bochum, Stuttgart and the first non-relegation place. For VfB, despite a significant increase in performance after the break, the defeat was again a bitter setback after last weekend's 3-0 win against 1 FC Cologne – the first victory ever under new coach Bruno Labbadia. With 19 points, the Swabians are just above the relegation ranks in 15th place.
On Saturday evening, the VfB pros allowed themselves too many individual mistakes, especially in defence and the first half. Offensively, the guests took place only after the 0:1, but initially played only pleasingly and hardly determined. The few consistent attacks were destroyed by Fährmann at the latest. The 34-year-old only had to concede the first goal after just over an hour since he returned to Schalke's goal after the first leg. The experienced professional unluckily let Sosa's long shot slip through his hands into the net.
In the second half, the actually much more stable basic order of Schalke was also in serious danger. This was also due to the reshuffle on the outside positions due to the failures of Jere Uronen and Cedric Brunner. With the emergency solutions Henning Matriciani and Mehmet Aydin, Reis was initially right, but in the second half they also had problems.
After a temporary VfB urge phase, Schalke put more pressure on again after about 30 minutes and missed an even higher lead at the break. Michael Frey (31st) and Rodrigo Zalazar (36th) missed promising opportunities, only Bülter with his cabinet piece by hoe into the long corner let some calm return.
Labbadia reacted to the rather emotionless performance of his team with two changes at the break. Tanguy Coulibaly and Dan-Axel Zagadou replaced the disappointing Gil Dias and Hiroki Ito. The result was significantly more pressure from his team and, above all, more passion. The connecting goal was deserved despite the fortunate result. In the end, VfB threw everything forward. But Schalke brought victory over time.