S04 defeated S05 in Tuesday's long awaited DFB Pokal fixture. The victory couldn't be described as particularly convincing, but it counts nonetheless.
|Steven Skrzybski.||Photo: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0|
At long last fans of the Königsblauen have something to cheer about. FC Schalke 04 earned their first victory since February 2020. Keeper Raplh Fährmann and midfielder Alessandro Schöpf proved the heroes as the Gelsenkirchen club ended a nearly seven-month drought.
Trainer Manuel Baum went straight for the jugular with a potent 4-2-1-3 featuring Vedad Ibisevic, Benito Raman, and Steven Skrzybski all toeing an advanced top-axis attacking line. Strangely enough, the tactic did not produce early fireworks. Opponents Schweinfurt got the better off early chances, forcing Fährmann into early saves in the 9th and 21st.
Schalke could barely get past the halfway line for much of the opening half hour. Ibisevic didn't get the first half-chance until the 25th. The third-tier side continued to put die Knappen under pressure. Defenders Malik Thiaw and Kilian Ludewig were toasted on individual runs. The former got beaten badly as Schweinfurt shockingly opened the scoring in the 37th.
The under-pressure top tier team had to respond quickly. Badly shaken out of their sleepy play, Baum's men did indeed react quickly and dangerously. Ibisevic struck home on a second attempt to even the score in the 39th. Five minutes later, the 36-year-old Bosnian set-up up Skrzybski in a wide open position. The 27-year-old hit the crossbar, but Schöpf was able to bang in on the rebound.
A determined Schweinfurt side prevented Schalke from running away with the match. The underdogs missed out on a fantastic chance to equalize in the 72nd when Fährmann parried away a penalty. Replays confirmed that the Schalke keeper has stepped off his line prior to the save, but the lower league side couldn't count on a VAR review (unused in first-round Pokal fixtures) to aid their cause.
Schalke couldn't shut the door until the 81st minute when Schöpf snatched his second tally. Raman would add a fourth five minutes later.