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M. Riemann (45)
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15:30 Kickoffs:
Schalke win again as relegation race tightens

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

FC Schalke 04 - in a massive result for the 2022/23 German Bundesliga's relegation race in the latest set of 15:30 kickoffs - have finally pulled themselves off the bottom with a 2-0 away win at VfL Bochum.

Another loss for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim means that Schalke, Bochum, Hoffenheim, and Stuttgart are all tied on 19 points in the last four places in the table. Stuttgart still have a chance to pull away with a draw or win against Bayern tonight.

Two 0-0 draws in Berlin and Gladbach furnished little to report upon. FC Augsburg did manage to pull away from the relegation pack with a 2-1 home win over SV Werder Bremen.  
Thomas Reis.
Thomas Reis.
FC Schalke 04 have ended a run of 38 away league fixtures without a win after former VfL Bochum coach Thomas Reis emerged victorious from his return trip to his old stomping grounds. A massive second consecutive win for the what had been the Bundesliga's last-placed side now ensures that four teams (Schalke, Bochum, Stuttgart and Hoffenheim) are now deadlocked on 19 points in the relegation race.

Schalke trainer Reis made two changes to the XI that captured all three points last week against Stuttgart. Missing goal-scorer Dominick Drexler to a hamstring injury, Reis introduced defensive midfielder/sweeper Eder Balanta into the starting lineup. This change saw the Königsblauen shift from a 4-2-3-1 to 5-4-1 formation. In the other change, a once-again fit Cedric Brunner replaced Mehmet Aydin at right fullback on a like-for-like.

VfL trainer Letsch went with four changes following last week's 0-3 declassing away at Bremen. Ivan Ordets, Saidy Janko, Danilho Soares, and Patrick Osterhage replaced Jordi Osei-Tutu, Konstantinos Stafylidis, Konstantinos Lampropoulos, and Pierre-Kunde Malong. The 1848ers lined up in what appeared to be a 4-2-3-1 with Osterhage and Kevin Stöger working as the sixes.

The clash got off to a lively start with the guests getting a couple of efforts on target in the opening 10 minutes. The first major chance of the match nevertheless belonged to Bochum. Soares managed to unleash VfL lead-striker Philipp Hofmann in front of an empty net in the 7th. The former KSC attacker regrettably sent the ball just past the right post.

Chances were not to be found during a hard-fought midfield slog thereafter until S04 keeper Ralf Fährmann was forced to make a chest save in the 21st. Bochum looked the slightly better side throughout the duration of the first half. The next major test of Fährmann still wouldn't come until the 43rd. Takuma Asano got a parry out of the Schalke net minder with a drive from 18 meters out.

Letsch's side found themselves most unfortunate to concede a goal at the stroke of halftime. A series of errors involving Janko, Erhan Masovic, and VfL keeper Manuel Riemann led to Riemann ultimately turning the ball into his own net in the 45th following two failed clearances. Reis thus entered the tunnel with a 1-0 lead over his former club.

Most of the action in the first 15 minutes after the restart took place in midfield. Fouls and stoppages then impeded the flow of the match until matters reached a virtual standstill after the hour-mark. Proceedings opened up a bit after Christopher Antwi-Adjei got a shot in off Fährmann's paw in the 69th.  Subbed on Schalke striker Simon Terodde would sting Riemann with a close-range header some nine minutes later.

Schalke were able to attain the 2-0 in the 79th. Marius Bülter finished off a flat Rodrigo Zalazar square in the box. Riemann had trouble seeing the effort after a nice screen-and-leave from S04 defender Maya Yoshida. Bochum thought the had pulled a goal back in the 83rd when Keven Schlotterbeck finished off a fine free-kick design. The tally was unfortunately nullified due to an offside position.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, there were two 0-0 draws at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei and Borussia Park. Köln and 1. FC Union Berlin couldn't be separated in Köpenick. Freiburg and Gladbach also couldn't convert any of their chances during a scoreless tie. FSV Mainz 05 managed to convert just one chance in their narrow 1-0 win over visiting Hoffenheim.

In a game that featured three goals over at FC Augsburg's WWK-Arena, Enrico Maaßen's Fuggerstädter topped SV Werder Bremen 2-1. Goals from Dion Drena Beljo and Arne Maier at the beginning of both halves proved sufficient to overcome a headed effort from Danish international Jens Stage. Augsburg move eight points clear of the relegation pack with the win.

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