Disappointing evening for S04 – Royal Blues lose 2-1 against Leverkusen
FC Schalke 04 slipped to a home defeat on Wednesday (19/12) against Bayer Leverkusen. Aleksandar Dragovic and Lucas Alario scored for the visitors and Haji Wright netted his first goal for Schalke.
Five changes to the side
Head coach Domenico Tedesco made five changes to the side that drew 1-1 with FC Augsburg last Saturday. Matija Nastasic, Nabil Bentaleb, Alessandro Schöpf, Weston McKennie and Haji Wright came in for Naldo, Suat Serdar, Sebastian Rudy, Steven Skrzybskia Cedric Teuchert. The match was chosen to bid farewell to the coal mines in the Ruhr area and there were a number of tributes, including pictures, speeches and songs before kick-off. Every S04 player wore the name of a different coal mine on their shirts during the game as well.
McKennie with the first chances
The Royal Blues started the better side and could have gone ahead had Weston McKennie taken one of his chances early on. The American could only connect with Alessandro Schöpf’s cross with his shoulder and then couldn’t beat Lukas Hradecky from close range after 21 minutes.
In the 23rd minute, Dominik Kohr took advantage of some slack play from Alessandro Schöpf and Benjamin Stambouli and burst in behind, but thankfully for Schalke, he placed his shot wide of Ralf Fährmann’s goal.
Dragovic scores, Harit not awarded a penalty
The guests were celebrating three minutes later – albeit after a slight delay. After a defensive clearance fell to Leon Bailey 20 yards out, the Jamaican shot and his save was tipped brilliantly onto the post by Ralf Fährmann. The ball then bounced back out to Aleksandar Dragovic, who hammered underneath Fährmann to give the visitors the lead. The linesman initially adjudged it to be offside, but after VAR intervention, the goal was given.
Schalke continued to push forwards and Amine Harit was seemingly brought down by Dominik Kohr in the penalty box after half an hour. Referee Aytekin believed the Moroccan had dived though, and booked him instead.
Alario doubles their lead, Wright grabs his first Schalke goal
Five minutes after the Harit incident, Leverkusen doubled their lead. Lucas Alario turned Matija Nastasic, although there were some suspicions of handball, and then beat Fährmann from the edge of the box with a powerful drive. The incident was surprisingly not checked by the referee.
It didn’t take Schalke long to fight back though. Nabil Bentaleb’s long-rang shot just whistled past the post in the 42nd minute, before Haji Wright got the goal just before half time. Bastian Oczipka whipped a dangerous corner in, which Weston McKennie flicked on for Wright to stab home – it was his first goal for the club.
Konoplyanka misses a great chance
Schalke continued their dominance in the second period, starting the second half very positively. Daniel Caligiuri set up Alessandro Schöpf in the 53rd minute – the Austrian’s shot wasn’t precise enough though. Fifteen minutes later, Schöpf played in substitute Steven Skrzybski. The striker’s one-on-one shot saw his shot beat Hradecky but also the far post. Yehven Konoplyanka then had the biggest chance of the game to equalise. The winger was clean through on goal and chose to cut back, giving defender Tin Jedvaj a chance to pressure him and thus his shot skewed well past the post.
Daniel Caligiuri had the final real opportunity to score for Schalke in the 84th minute. His thunderous effort just missed the goal and so it ended 1-2 and Schalke suffered another defeat this season.
Final game before the winter break in Stuttgart
Schalke’s last Bundesliga game before the winter break is on Saturday (22/12) against VfB Stuttgart in the Mercedes-Benz-Arena (15:30 CET).