Schalke are back in the Bundesliga!

Promotion! FC Schalke 04 are back in the top flight! An incredible 3-2 win over FC St. Pauli on Saturday night (7/5) ensured the club’s place in the Bundesliga for next season. S04’s goals at a sold-out VELTINS-Arena were scored by Simon Terodde (47’ and 71’) and Rodrigo Zalazar (78’). The visitors had actually led 2-0 at the break.

Two changes to the team

Dominick Drexler returned from suspension to start this matchday 33 fixture. As a result, Rodrigo Zalazar took his place on the bench. Thomas Ouwejan, who made his comeback from injury in the 2-1 win at Sandhausen last week, replaced Kerim Calhanoglu at left-back.

Matanovic scores twice early on

At a raucous VELTINS-Arena, Schalke had a chance for the perfect start after just 35 seconds. Simon Terodde stole the ball from Dennis Beifus on the edge of the box to get in behind, but couldn’t beat goalkeeper Dennis Smarsch with his shot from close range.

Schalke kept up the tempo in the first few minutes and continued to push forward in search of more opportunities. Marius Bülter had one of those when he cut inside and pulled the trigger from a tight angle – Smarsch was equal to his strike (6’). Despite this bright start, Schalke went behind after nine minutes. Igor Matanovic scored with St. Pauli’s first shot of the game, a left-footed strike into the bottom corner. The Royal Blues almost found an immediate response to going behind from a Thomas Ouwejan corner (12’). Bülter flicked it on towards the back post, but Terodde couldn’t get enough on it to find the back of the net.

The visitors were extremely clinical in the first half and scored with their second shot too. Once again, Igor Matanovic got the goal, taking advantage of a defensive mistake to slot home for his second of the night (17’). It looked as if Schalke had got one back midway through the first half, however Ko Itakura’s goal was ruled out. He had scored from an Ouwejan corner, but VAR correctly intervened after spotting that the ball had hit his hand before he found the net (24’).

Luck wasn’t on Schalke’s side for the rest of the first half either. With just over an hour played, Dominick Drexler’s shirt was pulled in the box, but the referee let play go on and the video assistant didn’t get involved. Shortly afterwards, Jakov Medic denied Terodde a goal with an important block on the line. The ball had come to Terodde after Drexler unselfishly headed a cross back down to his teammate (33’).

Terodde double, Zalazar winner

The second half couldn’t have begun any better for Schalke. After less than 30 seconds played, the referee pointed to the spot after Jakov Medic brought down Terodde. The league’s top goalscorer stepped up himself and sent Smarsch the wrong way to get S04 back in the game (47’).

St. Pauli weren’t fazed by conceding and stayed compact despite some real pressure from Schalke. One example of this was when Marius Bülter beat several men in the box, however his shot was saved by Smarsch (58’). Darko Churlinov then did beat him, though he was clearly offside and the goal didn’t stand (68’).

Three minutes later, Schalke got their important equaliser. Darko Churlinov set up Terodde in the box and he struck a shot through the legs of Smarsch to make it 2-2!

Martin Fraisl got a chance to impress 15 minutes before the end. He kept out a powerful volley from Marcel Beifus to deny Pauli a third goal. At the other end, substitute Rodrigo Zalazar sent the VELTINS-Arena crazy with the goal that would ultimately seal promotion. Marius Bülter spotted him in space on the left and he hammered it past Smarsch, with his shot hitting the underside of the bar and going in (78’).

Three minutes later, the fans were loud once more, this time after a bad tackle. Marcel Beifus was shown a straight red for a poor challenge on Florian Flick. Thankfully, S04’s number 17 was able to continue after receiving treatment. Zalazar had a chance to seal the win in the 85th minute, but cleared the bar. It didn’t matter though, Schalke held on and returned to the Bundesliga after just a year away!

Final game of the season in Nürnberg

Schalke will end 2021/22 with a trip to friends 1. FC Nürnberg on Sunday (15/5). The match will kick off at 15:30 CEST, as will all matchday 34 games in the 2. Bundesliga.

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