Schalke narrowly beaten 2-1 at FC St. Pauli

FC Schalke 04 lost 2-1 on Saturday evening (4/12) away to league leaders FC St. Pauli. Former S04 man, Guido Burgstaller, bagged two goals in the first half to secure their eighth win from eight home games this season. Rodrigo Zalazar pulled one back with a header with a quarter of an hour to play.

Both head coaches absent

Due to testing positive for Covid-19, head coach Dimitrios Grammozis was in quarantine and therefore not present in Hamburg. He was replaced by his assistant Sven Piepenbrock, who was supported by Mike Büskens. The home side were also in the same boat, with Timo Schultz equally absent due to his Corona infection. His assistants also took his place on the touchline.

Rufat Dadashov made his first-team debut at the Millerntor-Stadion. The striker from the U23s partnered Marvin Pieringer up front in a 3-5-2 system. Marius Bülter, who scored twice last week in the 5-2 win over SV Sandhausen, wasn’t able to take part due to abnormal blood levels. Florian Flick, another starter against SVS, was missing too due to a wound above his knee. Victor Pálsson returned to the starting XI in place of Flick, also taking the captain’s armband. The other alteration to the team saw Mehmet Can Aydin preferred to Reinhold Ranftl on the right flank. U19s attacker Keke Topp celebrated his professional debut late on, coming on for Dadashov.

First-half Burgstaller brace

Right from the start of the game, both teams looked to get forward and got stuck in. Referee Marco Fritz issued his first yellow card of the night after just two minutes in a feisty opening. With seven minutes played, the ball was in the back of the net for the first time, though it wouldn’t count. Ex-Schalke striker Guido Burgstaller was clearly offside as he scored. The Austrian was involved again in the next notable moment, hitting the side netting from the right-hand side of the box (12’).

Burgstaller then did get himself on the scoresheet against his former employers after 20 minutes. Igor Matanovic played a ball over the top to him, and he held off Thomas Ouwejan before firing the ball low into the corner to make it 1-0. Martin Fraisl got something on the shot, but couldn’t keep it out. Almost immediately afterwards, Rodrigo Zalazar had a great chance to equalise. After some good work by Rufat Dadashov, the former St. Pauli loanee struck it over the bar from a good position (22’).

Seven minutes after Zalazar’s miss, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh narrowly flashed one over the bar artistically on the half-volley (29’), Fraisl getting his fingertips on the shot to divert it over. Schalke’s goalkeeper was beaten for a second time soon after, however. Burgstaller again got the better of him, this time flicking home his header from a cross into the far corner (39’). The last opportunity of the first half saw Marvin Pieringer head an Ouwejan corner onto the roof of the net.

Zalazar gives Schalke hope

The start of the second half almost began brilliantly for the Royal Blues. Mehmet Can Aydin was immediately in behind after a mistake from a St. Pauli defender. The wing-back’s shot was straight at goalkeeper Nikola Vasilj, though (46’). Just a minute later, Schalke were almost caught out when Martin Fraisl was way off his line and inadvertently gave it to Daniel-Kofi Kyereh. He took the shot right away, but Ko Itakura was in the right place to clear the shot before it went in.

The all-Austrian battle between Burgstaller and Fraisl resumed in the 56th minute. This time, Burgstaller shot in the box, Ko Itakura deflected it and forced Fraisl into making a smart save with his feet. Burgstaller then had another shot two minutes afterwards, striking it past the post.

With a quarter of an hour left on the clock, the Knappen got themselves back into the game via a Rodrigo Zalazar goal. Dominick Drexler played it wide to Thomas Ouwejan, who whipped in a perfect cross and the Uruguayan met it with his head to find the net. The creator then became the goalscorer, albeit only momentarily. The Dutchman’s deflected strike dropped in over the goalkeeper, however Marvin Pieringer was offside in the build-up so the goal didn’t stand (84’).

Both teams had chances in added time. Firstly, substitute Simon Makienok dragged a shot wide on the turn for Pauli, before youngster Keke Topp had his effort held by Vasilj.

First half of the season ends at home against FCN

FC Schalke 04’s final game of the first half of the season comes next Friday at home to 1. FC Nürnberg (10/12) at 18:30 CET. This clash isn’t the final one of 2021 for S04 though, as they will face Hamburger SV away on Saturday, 18th December, once again at the primetime slot of 20:30 CET.

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