With their backs to the wall to safety: the passionate relegation fighters from Schalke 04 have set the next last-minute exclamation point in dire need. A week after the late resurrection against Bremen, the Royal Blues advanced in the table basement with the immensely important 3: 2 (1: 0) at European Cup candidates FSV Mainz 05 and jumped to 14th place at least for one night.
Marius Bülter (26th, 90th + 12th, penalty kick) and Tom Krauss (60th) scored for Schalke’s deserved victory, the 700th in the Bundesliga – but the fear continues. The competition can fight back on Saturday, and coach Thomas Reis’ team has a tough remaining program with away games at Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig. The goals from Leandro Barreiro (53rd) and Aaron Martin (70th) were not enough for Mainz’s European ambitions.
Turning over the deficit in the previous week (2-1) “unleashed new strength”, emphasized Reis, who trusted Sepp van den Berg and Cedric Brunner as fresh defenses in the starting XI. For Schalke, “a lot is going on,” warned FSV coach Bo Svensson: “They’re fighting for their lives in the league.”
And that’s exactly how the Knappen started, royal blue made a much better impression before the break. Goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow was challenged once against Karim Onisiwo from Mainz (20th), but otherwise Schalke hardly allowed the FSV, which had been in such good form recently, to develop with fight, will and passion.
Instead, the guests caused danger – and the reward followed. Bülter outdid defender Andreas Hanche-Olsen with several step-overs, shoved in ice-coldly and caused an explosion of jubilation among the approximately 10,000 S04 supporters in Mainz. A second goal would not have been undeserved, but Kenan Karaman only hit the post (35th).
Schalke also got off to a better start in the second half, but Bülter (51st) missed a huge chance against FSV keeper Robin Zentner. That took revenge: Mainz, who lost in Wolfsburg (0:3) for the first time in ten games, hit back after a corner by Barreiro. Dominik Kohr (56th) even had the quick turn on his foot.
With great morale, the guests defended themselves against the Mainz urge phase. Whipped up by the euphoric fans, it was Krauss who brought Schalke back into the lead out of nowhere. But Martin threw a free kick into the goal to equalize again. Schalke continued to play boldly, but substitute Sebastian Polter missed from close range (83′), and Bülter also failed at goalkeeper Zentner (90′ + 7′). Then he redeemed the royal blue with a penalty.