Ko Itakura: We knew that we could turn this game around

Once the final whistle blew on Saturday night there were crazy scenes throughout the VELTINS-Arena. However, it was an emotional rollercoaster for everyone involved with FC Schalke 04. One reason for that was the first half which could hardly have gone any worse. The hosts missed a number of clear-cut chances and St. Pauli were clinical to lead 2-0 at half-time. Ko Itakura did find the back of the net to make it 2-1 in the 23rd minute, though that was ruled out by VAR.

Aufstieg FC Schalke 04

“I knew the goal probably wouldn’t stand” said the 25-year-old, who headed the ball onto his own hand from a Thomas Ouwejan corner before scoring. It was a goal that probably would have stood a few years ago, but isn’t allowed to count these days due to the new rules.

The team believed in the comeback

Itakura’s disallowed goal was yet another setback in a first half that was somewhat surreal for the Knappen. Even though S04 were well on top and had some good opportunities, they were 2-0 down after 20 minutes. “The first half went badly for us, but we carried on believing,” reported Itakura. “We said to ourselves at half time that we could turn the game around if we got one back.”

I’m extremely happy that we’ve won promotion to the Bundesliga, especially as we did it in our stadium with our fans. It feels fantastic.

Ko Itakura

Jakov Medic’s foul on Simon Terodde in the box less than 30 seconds into the second half help start the comeback in what was the “craziest day” of Itakura’s career. Terodde then got the equaliser, before Rodrigo Zalazar’s powerful strike off the underside of the bar earned Mike Büskens’ side all three points to return to the top flight. “It’s an incredible feeling,” said Itakura. I’m extremely happy that we’ve won promotion to the Bundesliga, especially as we did it in our stadium with our fans. It feels fantastic,” added the Japan international.

Itakura wasn’t sure of the exact plans for the rest of Saturday evening as the players partied well into the night, though he set himself one goal: “I want to drink a lot of beer tonight, even though I don’t like it!”

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