The knot has burst: Schalke 04 have finally reported back in the relegation battle with their first Bundesliga win in three and a half months.
The bottom of the table won the important duel with direct competitor VfB Stuttgart 2-1 (2-0) and, still undefeated, draws new hope in the second half of the season. Coach Thomas Reis' team now has a great opportunity to catch up at his ex-club VfL Bochum next weekend and leave the last place in the table, which the relegated team has been in continuously since the eleventh matchday.
After four previous goalless draws, Dominick Drexler (10th minute) ended the 414-minute goal drought in front of 62,271 spectators in the sold-out Schalke Arena. Marius Bülter (40th) increased artistically to 2:0. The Royal Blues last won against Mainz (1-0) on November 9th. In the 100th Bundesliga duel between the two traditional clubs, Borna Sosa's goal (63rd) was not enough for VfB after a serious goalkeeper error by Schalke's Ralf Fährmann.
With 16 points now, Schalke is only three points behind Bochum, Stuttgart and the first non-relegation zone. For VfB, despite a significant improvement in performance after the break, the bankruptcy was another bitter setback after the 3-0 win against 1. FC Köln last weekend - the first win ever under the new coach Bruno Labbadia. With 19 points, the Swabians are just above the relegation zone in 15th place.
The Swabians allowed themselves too many individual mistakes, especially in defense and in the first half. The guests only started offensively after the 0:1, but initially only played pleasantly and hardly purposefully. At the latest, the ferryman destroyed the few consistent attacks. The 34-year-old conceded the first goal after just over an hour since returning to the Knappen goal after the first half. The veteran unfortunately let Sosa's long-range shot slip through his hands and into the net.
In the second half, the actually much more stable basic order of Schalke came into serious danger. This was also due to the reshuffle in the outer positions due to the absence of Jere Uronen and Cedric Brunner. Reis was initially correct with the emergency solutions Henning Matriciani and Mehmet Aydin, but they also had problems in the second half.
After a period of pressure from VfB, Schalke increased the pressure again after about 30 minutes and missed an even higher lead at the break. Michael Frey (31st) and Rodrigo Zalazar (36th) missed top-class goals, only Bülter with his cabinet piece with a hoe into the far corner caused some calm.
Labbadia reacted to the rather emotionless performance of his team at the break with two changes. 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 lucky outcome. In the end, VfB threw everything forward.