Wagner reign begins with 3-1 win in Oberhausen
FC Schalke 04 got off to a winning start on David Wagner's first game in charge on Sunday (7.7). Rabbi Matondo and an Ahmed Kutucu brace proved the difference for Schalke, who debuted the new home shirt against Rot-Weiß Oberhausen. New signing Benito Raman also made his first appearance in Royal Blue.
Other new faces would have to wait for their debuts, as Schalke ran out in front of 6000 fans at the Stadion Niederrhein. Defender Ozan Kabak sat out with a foot injury, while goalkeeper Markus Schubert and right back Jonjoe Kenny are both recharging their batteries after the European Championship. Since these three weren’t the only ones enjoying an extended summer break, the match provided a perfect opportunity for some youngsters to show what they have to offer.
Matondo scores first goal in new home shirt
The Royal Blues started with energy and confidence against the Regionalliga West (4th tier) runners up, creating several early chances. Raman was denied the perfect start to life at Schalke when his shot was cleared off the line (8′), while Matondo followed up with an effort off the post just three minutes later. It took just 60 seconds for the Welshman to make amends, however, as he found himself in the right spot to meet Fabian Reese’s cross from the right and tap home from close range.
The hosts, meanwhile, offered little going forward in the early stages, but after half an hour slowly grew in confidence, testing Michael Langer with a quickfire double of efforts through März and Steinmetz. Former Schalke man Giuseppe Pisano also had the chance to level, but his strike flew wide of the far post. Steinmetz actually succeeded in beating Langer, but was denied a leveller by a Matondo goal-line clearance.
At the other end, Raman should have made it 2-0, but the Belgian somehow struck wide from five yards after Matondo’s low ball across goal.
Kutucu scores straight after introduction
As planned, Wagner changed the entire team ahead of the second half, including eight Knappenschmiede youngsters. Only Steven Skrzybski, Ahmed Kutucu and Jonas Carls were included from the senior squad. The young squad flew out of the blocks in the second period, scoring after just 30 seconds, Kutucu slotting home after a quick break and a well-timed ball from Skrzybski.
Jason Ceka then tried to tease a shot into the near corner, but saw his strike saved by Daniel Davari (52′). The RWO goalkeeper was called into action again not longer after, but this time got the better of Schalke’s Kutucu.
Despite failing to create many chances in the second half, Rot-Weiß scored with their first real opportunity. März was the goalscorer, firing from range in the 78th minute to set up an exciting end to this friendly encounter. The hosts hit the woodwork twice in the closing stages, but any hopes of an equaliser were dashed when Kutucu added his second of the game in the 87th minute.
The Royal Blues’ next friendly also takes place within a stone’s throw of Gelsenkirchen. On Friday (12.7), Wagner’s side take on an all-star team from the town of Bottrop, before then facing SG Wattenscheid 09 two days later.