Goals from Itakura and Zalazar defeat Hannover 2-1

FC Schalke 04 beat Hannover 96 at home on Saturday (19/3). On head coach Mike Büskens’ birthday, Ko Itakura (43’) and Rodrigo Zalazar (54’) got the goals to earn all three points in front of 55,152 fans at the VELTINS-Arena.

First start for Lode

Mike Büskens made three changes to the team that won 3-0 at Ingolstadt last time out. Marius Lode made his first start for the club, replacing the suspended Marcin Kaminski in defence. Rodrigo Zalazar, who was directly involved in all three goals in that win, was handed a start too, coming in for Darko Churlinov. The other alteration saw Victor Pálsson play instead of Reinhold Ranftl, who had tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday. The Royal Blues went with a 4-4-2 formation again.

Itakura scores on the stroke of half time

Schalke, cheered on by a packed stadium, had their first shot in the opening minute of the match. Marius Bülter cut inside and pulled the trigger from the edge of the box, though it was an easy one for Ron-Robert Zieler in the Hannover goal to save. It took around 10 minutes for the visitors to threaten the S04 goal. Sebastian Kerk fired narrowly wide on his left (11’).

At the other end, Simon Terodde had a great chance to make it 1-0. A brilliant cross by Rodrigo Zalazar found him at the far post, however his shot was blocked by Zieler in goal (13’). Schalke’s top goalscorer then had another opportunity after a long throw by Marius Lode went all the way through to him, but Terodde skied it on his left (25’).

Schalke were fortunate not to concede in unusual circumstances in the 32nd minute. Sebastian Kerk whipped in a corner towards the front post and it crashed into the post. The woodwork was again in focus shortly afterwards, this time in the other box. Marius Lode’s cross into the area was headed onto the bar by Rodrigo Zalazar via the fingertips of Zieler (42’). The resulting corner, taken by Zalazar, wasn’t properly cleared by Hannover man Gaël Ondoua. The ball then came to Ko Itakura via Lode and the Japanese defender found the back of the net with a low shot on his left foot (43’).

Zalazar responds to Hannover’s equaliser

The second half began badly for the Royal Blues. Less than five minutes after the restart, former Schalke man Cedric Teuchert made it 1-1 with a stunning curler into the far corner.

The Knappen showed the perfect response to conceding the equaliser, regaining the lead in the 54th minute. Rodrigo Zalazar began the move and then scored himself with a fantastic piledriver past the goalkeeper from a narrow angle after a through ball by Lode.

More good chances came Schalke’s way following the second goal. Firstly, Simon Terodde just dragged a shot wide after being fed by Zalazar on the edge of the box (57’). Less than 120 seconds later, Ron-Robert Zieler was again on song, this time fishing out Marius Bülter’s deflected strike destined for the bottom corner. The following corner was again dangerous, with the 2014 World Cup winner frustrating initially Malick Thiaw and then Bülter on the rebound.

After this period of Schalke pressure, the game was fairly quiet in the closing stages. Schalke had more of the ball, but weren’t as threatening in the final third. They still remained compact and didn’t allow Hannover any space to attack.  The final chance also belonged to S04: Marvin Pieringer, who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes, met Dominick Drexler’s low cross, however Zieler was once again there to keep it out (87’).

Dresden up next after the international break

Schalke’s next game is in two weeks due to the final international break of the season next weekend. That match is away at Dynamo Dresden on Friday (1/4) at 18:30 CEST.


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