Defeat in Düsseldorf
FC Schalke were beaten 2-1 by Fortuna Düsseldorf on Wednesday night (27/5). Weston McKennie headed the Royal Blues into the lead after 53 minutes, but goals from Rouwen Hennings (63’) and Kenan Karaman (68’) turned it around for the hosts.
Kabak makes his return
Almost three months since his last appearance, Ozan Kabak returned to the starting XI. The Turkish international suffered a transverse process fracture of his lumbar vertebrae at the end of February and recently returned to the squad for the Augsburg game, although he remained an unused substitute.
The Royal Blues were without long-term injury absentees Omar Mascarell and Benjamin Stambouli as well as Suat Serdar and Amine Harit. Serdar suffered a partial ligament tear in his left knee against Augsburg. Benito Raman missed out on a return to his former club, with the Belgian out with a thigh problem.
Caligiuri with the best chance
It’s fair to say the first half wasn’t the most exciting for either side. Though the hosts had more possession, they struggled to make any of it count, not least thanks to solid defensive work from the Royal Blues.
Schalke dominated midfield battles and frequently sought to break on the counter, which ultimately to the best chance of the half. Daniel Caligiuri broke through on goal but was unable to get the better of Fortuna keeper Florian Kastenmeier (21’).
At the other end, Markus Schubert had little to do until the 32nd minute, when Erik Thommy attempted a curling effort from a short corner, but the Germany U21s international cleared well.
Three second-half headers
Jonjoe Kenny had a brilliant chance to make it 1-0 right at the start of the second half. The full back was played in by Guido Burgstaller on the right-hand side of the box, but his shot went wide. The Royal Blues were able to celebrate moments later though. Bastian Oczipka’s free-kick was emphatically headed home by Weston McKennie to give S04 the lead (53’).
The hosts found an equaliser ten minutes later. Rouwen Hennings, who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, was the thorn in Schalke’s side once again. Kevin Stöger’s long-range free-kick was parried up into the air by Schubert and Hennings was in the right place to head home. Düsseldorf then quickly found a second goal to turn the game around. Kenan Karaman was on hand at the back post to head into an empty net after a header across the box.
David Wagner reacted to going behind by bringing on fresh legs, desperate to at least secure a point in the closing stages. But the hosts, who were equally desperate to hold on to the points and drag them further away from the bottom two, were efficient in keeping the Royal Blues away from goal. Indeed, it was Fortuna who came closest to scoring the game’s fifth goal, but Kenny was at hand to deny Schalke loanee Steven Skrzybski tapping into an empty net in stoppage time.
Home game against Bremen
Schalke’s busy week will conclude with a home game against SV Werder Bremen on Saturday, 30th May (15:30 CEST).