One year removed from their humiliating relegation, FC Schalke 04 are back in the German Bundesliga!
Many earlier chances were missed Saturday evening at the Veltins Arena, but the Königsblauen were able to secure a 3-2 comeback victory over visiting FC St. Pauli.
A Simon Terrode brace and winning goal from the newly signed Rodrigo Zalazar ensure that Schalke can finish no lower than second in the 2. Bundesliga.
After SV Darmstadt 98's slip-up on Friday night, FC Schalke 04 had the chance to secure automatic promotion to the Bundesliga at home against FC St. Pauli on Saturday night. A win would do it for the Königsblauen. Trailing 0-2 at the half, it did not appear as if it would happen. Interim trainer Mike Büsken's men nevertheless pulled it out with a sensational 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
Büsken's lined up his charges in a 4-2-3-1 with 2. Bundesliga legend Simon Terrode spearheading the attack. The Bundesliga-experienced trio of Marius Bülter, Dominik Drexler, and Darko Churlinov worked behind the striker. FC St. Pauli found themselves in need of six fresh players after a COVID outbreak within the team. Trainer Timo Schulz opted for a 4-4-2 diamond with Daniel-Kofi Kyereh and Igor Matonovic up top.
Terrode missed a sitter before the first minute was out. Five minutes after that, Bülter forced St. Pauli keeper Dennis Smarsch into a massive save. Schalke were shot out of a cannon, but couldn't find the finish to match their early energy. The hosts were made to pay for their profligacy in the 9th, when Matanovic supplied a stunning finish off the turn to give the Kiezkicker the lead.
Both Churlinov and Bülter spurned golden opportunities in the frantic minutes that followed. Schalke continued to put pedal to the metal and pin the guests back in their own half. Shockingly, the Hamburg visitors were able to double their advantage against the run-of-play. A mistake from S04 goalkeeper Matrin Fraisl set up the play, but Matanovic again astounded with a nice finish after a neat one-two with Jackson Irvine.
Matanovic's incredible 17th-minute brace didn't discourage the Westphalians from continuing to press forward. Ko Itakura had a pull-back goal disallowed for a hand-ball in the lead up in the 23rd. Drexler miffed up another chance ten minutes later. Schalke couldn't keep up the tempo of their immensely aggressive start and St. Pauli began to look more consistent toward the end of the half.
The halftime whistle still came with a scoreline not at all reflective of the xG. Die Knappen were given a chance to immediately rectify this seconds after the restart when Terrode was fouled inside the box. The league's leading goal-scorer strode forward to convert the spot kick himself and the hosts were back in it.
Büskens' men were nevertheless still two goals away from automatic promotion and had significant difficulty coordinating their attack builds in the second 45. The hour mark came and went without any more significant chances of note from the home side. Büskens brought on newly signed Uruguayan striker Rodrigo Zalazar in the 67th, who had played for St. Pauli last year.
A minute after Zalazar's introduction, it appeared as if the former Eintracht Frankfurt man had set up the equalizer. Churlinov's tally was in the 68th was scratched off for offside. Terodde ended up scoring the equalizer in the 71st. Former Düsseldorf and Stuttgart man Marcin Kaminski put his former Stuttgart teammate Churlinov through. Terrodde finished off Churlinov's cross.
Moments after St. Pauli nearly restored their lead in the 76th, Zalazar scored what would prove the game-winner in the 78th. Bülter and Danny Latzka proved the excellent set-up work. The Uruguayan slammed home an emphatic finish in off the underside of the crossbar for the 3-2. Unfortunately, the game finished with some frustration-fueled sending offs for St. Pauli. Both Matanovic and young defender Marcel Beifus saw red.
Schalke weren't the only 2. Bundesliga club to take advantage of SV Darmstadt's Friday loss. Hamburg's larger club, the HSV, catapulted themselves up to second place with their own win this weekend. SV Werder Bremen--relegated alongside Schalke last season--also have a chance to overtake Darmstadt tomorrow with a win or draw against Erzfebirge Aue and move into third place.
|16||A. Vindheim ↪55|
|8||D. Latza (C) ↪79|
|24||D. Drexler ↪67|
|7||D. Churlinov ↪79|
|9||S. Terodde ⚽⚽|
|4||V. Pálsson ↩79|
|10||R. Zalazar ↩67 ⚽|
|36||B. Idrizi ↩79|
|38||M. Aydin ↩55|
|23||L. Paqarada (C) ↪80|
|14||A. Aremu ↪58|
|26||R. Benatelli ↪79|
|34||I. Matanovic ⚽⚽|
|16||S. Makienok ↩80|
|21||L. Ritzka ↩58|
|13||L. Daschner ↩79|