One of the two late kick-offs this Sunday saw Schalke host the in-form Stuttgart as they looked to leap into the Champions League places.
The young Schalke side have had a mixed return to Bundesliga action having loss twice and winning the other two games. After last week’s disappointing loss to Mainz they were looking to bounce back with a win.
The visitors for Schalke were Stuttgart and they were bound to be a test as they arrived as one of the in-form teams in the league. After conceding twelve goals in three games in November they’ve gone on to being unbeaten for their last seven games, drawing two and winning their last five.
A home lead against the run of play
Stuttgart started the game very well and they carved open the first chance of the game after six minutes. Timo Werner broke into the area and he managed to pick out Christian Gentner, his effort was excellently turned around the post by Ralf Fährmann.
Despite Stuttgart dominating the opening stages it was Schalke that managed to take the lead. After fourteen minutes Younès Belhanda unselfishly played the ball to Alessandro Schöpf, he was denied by Przemysław Tytoń. Disappointingly for Stuttgart the rebound looped up perfectly for Belhanda to end into the empty net for his second of the season.
Stuttgart caused problems once more when Werner burst forward once more and this time he went for goal himself on the edge of the area and Fährmann once again stepped up for his team to save.
Just before the break Schalke had to hold their breath and hope the best as Werner’s cross deflected off Sead Kolašinac and looped over Fährmann and just over the bar onto the roof of the net.
End to end action sees Stuttgart finally equalise
Schalke came close to scoring straight away in the second half, Johannes Geis whipped in a tremendous freekick and unfortunately Joël Matip couldn’t direct his diving header on target.
It was the home side that threatened once more as they pushed for some more breathing space. Kolašinac fired in a quality cross and Klass-Jan Huntelaar wonderfully controlled the ball while also turning and holding off Georg Niedermeier, despite the brilliance his shot was straight at Tytoń who saved.
Stuttgart soon after almost equalised in bizarre fashion, a lovely flowing move saw Gentner play the ball into Werner, he played the ball through to Daniel Didavi, sadly for them Fährmann was alert and tackled Didavi. Then bizarrely Roman Neustädter struck his clearance against his own keeper and fortunately for Schalke Júnior Caiçara was on the line to clear the danger.
The away side were started to threaten more and more as the game went on and they should’ve scored when Gentner pulled the ball back to Werner and from a few yards out the youngster fired over.
Both sides were doing very well at creating chances, however both sides struggled with their execution. Schalke reacted to Werner’s chance and in similar fashion Schöpf cut the ball back to Leon Goretzka, who from thirteen yards fired over the bar.
Stuttgart came very close to drawing level once more, Lukas Rupp clipped the ball to Alexandru Maxim and the Romanian showed great technique to volley towards goal. Much to Schalke’s relieve the effort bounced agonisingly wide.
The away side were left wondering what more they could do, however their frustrations were soon gone as they equalised with fifteen minutes left to go. Maxim delivered the corner, Gentner’s header at the near post saw Fährmann produce a great save, sadly for the keeper and his team substitute Martin Harnik was there for the rebound and easily tapped in for an instant impact from the bench.
Maxim was pulling all the strings after coming onto the pitch and he almost caught out Fährmann with his long range freekick, the Romanian over hit his freekick and the Schalke keeper had to scramble back and was just able to flick the ball over.
Schalke went agonisingly close to grabbing a late winner, a corner to the near post saw Matip win the header and it flew across goal and just wide.
That proved to be the last of the action and it was a well earned point for both sides, Schalke will be disappointed they couldn’t see out the win, however it would’ve been harsh had Stuttgart lost. The Swabians are now eight games unbeaten and move up a place to eleventh.