Coach Thomas Reis cried out his joy as he jumped, goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann thanked his teammates with relief and the whole team celebrated their biggest football party since promotion last season in front of the enthusiastic fans: Schalke 04 is still alive!
The Royal Blues have finally returned to 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.
S04 coach Reis: "The team is alive"
"Of course this victory gives us a boost because there was finally a hefty reward for our effort," said Fährmann, who had endangered victory with a mistake, on Sky: "We left our hearts on the pitch and man saw how the fans appreciated that."
Since the 1: 6 home debacle against RB Leipzig "we deliver on the pitch and show what the fans expect from us," said goalscorer Marius Bülter: "It's good to score goals again." And coach Reis emphasized: "The team is alive."
Schalke now have a great opportunity to catch up at Reis' ex-club VfL Bochum next weekend and leave the last place in the table where the club has been without a break since the eleventh matchday. "It's a derby, it's always explosive," said Fährmann.
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. Bülter (40th) increased artistically to 2:0. "It was probably instinct," Bülter explained with a heel-heel into the far corner: "It was the only chance for me to get the ball on goal."
Goalkeeper error by ferryman
In the 100th Bundesliga duel between the two traditional clubs, the goal by Borna Sosa (63rd) was not enough for VfB after a serious goalkeeper mistake by Fährmann. "I'm sorry for the team. You can say that I didn't look so good," said Fährmann: "The ball fluttered a bit, but I have the right to hold it."
With 16 points, 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. "We have to be braver," Sosa quarreled: "Now it's going to be difficult." The next game: at home against Bayern Munich.
On Saturday evening, the Swabians made 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.
Labbadia had previously reacted to his team's rather emotionless performance with two changes during 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 lucky outcome. In the end, VfB threw everything forward - in vain.