The dramatic victory at FSV Mainz 05 put the pros and fans of FC Schalke 04 in a collective frenzy of joy, as if staying in the Bundesliga was already a sure thing.
The 3-2 win on Friday evening, scored by Marius Bülter's latest goal in Bundesliga history, was just a small step towards the big goal.
After the first emotions had subsided, Schalke coach Thomas Reis stated quite matter-of-factly: "We haven't achieved anything yet. Except that we're still in the race to stay up. But we know that we still have several steps to go and still have to get more points. If we don't manage to do that, it will be difficult to stay in the class."
Second win of the season away
After all, the second win of the season abroad after the 2-0 win at VfL Bochum four weeks ago strengthened the belief in rescue. "We look at the table with a good feeling," said Reis. With now 30 points, the climber left a direct relegation zone for the first time since the beginning of October, at least overnight. "Of course it gives you a boost and a lot of self-confidence," said Bülter, the scorer.
The 30-year-old converted a hotly debated penalty kick in the 102nd minute, causing royal blue ecstasy on the pitch and in the stands. "The pressure was not low and the relief afterwards was all the greater. Everyone is aware of what is at stake for us and the situation we are in," said Bülter.
The striker, who had already made it 1-0 in the 26th minute, was held by Mainz's Anthony Caci in the decisive scene. After the intervention of the video assistant, referee Matthias Jöllenbeck looked at the TV pictures and gave the penalty kick to the great displeasure of Mainz. The Schalke attacker had previously tugged at the Mainzer's jersey, "but keeping Caci was more relevant. I can live with the decision that way a lot better," said Jöllenbeck. He is therefore glad that the video assistant has turned on.
05 coach Bo Svensson described the decision as "cheeky" and "scandal" in the initial excitement, but later apologized for his verbal freak out. "The choice of words was too harsh and exaggerated, I regret that," said the Dane. However, this did not change his assessment: "For me it is a clear wrong decision."
Schalke saw it very differently. "If you look at the TV pictures, that was a clear penalty for me," emphasized Reis. And Bülter reiterated: "I noticed that he was pulling my shirt very hard. I probably wouldn't have gotten the ball, but you can give the penalty, even if that was a little lucky for us."
Next Saturday is the difficult away task at record champions Bayern Munich. Then it's against the cup finalists Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig. A crisp remaining program, which the royal blues tackle without fear after the emotional sense of achievement. Tom Krauss, who scored in Mainz to make it 2-1, set the course: "If we push ourselves up as a team and with the support of the fans, we can annoy any opponent. We're not finished yet."