Suat Serdar scores, Royal Blues win 1-0

FC Schalke 04 won their first game in the Bundesliga for over two months with a 1-0 win over Hannover 96 on Sunday (31/3). Suat Serdar scored the only goal of the game in 39th minute.

One change to the starting XI

Omar Mascarell celebrated his return to the side after recovering from an adductor problem. The Spaniard replaced Weston McKennie in the team, who suffered a ruptured ankle ligament on international duty with the US national team. There were no other changes to the team that lost 1-0 to RB Leizpig.

Serdar puts it in the far corner

Both teams fought hard from the opening minute, although the game had the mark of a relegation battle, with little action in the final thirds. The first chance of the afternoon came from a set-piece: Sebastian Rudy’s dangerous free-kick was headed wide Matija Nastasic in the 12th minute. Seven minutes later, the home side had their first opportunity, but Alexander Nübel punched a dangerous Hendrik Weydandt effort over the crossbar.

It took the Royal Blues 35 minutes to create their first chance from open play. Benjamin Stambouli burst through the Hannover midfield and pulled the trigger from the edge of box. Michael Esser had no problems with the shot. Four minutes later though, Esser was beaten. Stambouli passed the ball into Hannover’s box and Suat Serdar received it, took one touch and volleyed it home into the far corner to give Schalke the lead at half time.

Knappen defend their lead

Hannover played more open football in the second half, bringing on Florent Muslija  to improve their offensive work. Their first chance came to Linton Maina in the 60th shot, his shot missing the far post of Nübel’s goal.

The chances returned in the second half, as Serdar tested Esser from 20 yards, albeit without enough power to cause any real concern (67’). Uth followed moments later following an Embolo through ball, but Hannover’s Waldemar Anton denied him with a last-ditch tackle (72’).

It was all Hannover in the final 15 minutes, when the crossbar denied Muslija an equaliser from 20-yards, before a flurry of stops from Nübel denied both Nicolai Müller and Muslija once more. Genki Haraguchi also fired a shot wide, but Schalke eventually recovered control to see out the final few minutes and hold onto an important three points.

Two home games in four days

The Royal Blues will be hoping to build on their success when they host Werder Bremen in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals on Wednesday (3/4) at 20:45 CEST. The focus returns to the Bundesliga on Saturday, however, when Europa League quarterfinalists Frankfurt come to Gelsenkirchen (15:30 CEST).

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