Schalke produced a much-improved second-half display to rescue a point against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday and damage Die Werkself's hopes of reaching next season's UEFA Champions League.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Schalke
Goals: 1-0 Havertz (31'), 1-1 Burgstaller (47')
Leverkusen looked every inch the team who had just put six first-half goals past Eintracht Frankfurt in the opening exchanges, and were unlucky not to go ahead when Charles Aranguiz and Julian Brandt both rattled the woodwork on 12 minutes. Aranguiz then blazed over after a flowing team move, before Havertz caressed a ball into the path of Brandt, who volleyed just wide of the post. Weston McKennie had a rare chance at the other end from Bastian Oczipka's free-kick, but the American then inadvertently teed up Leverkusen's opener as he diverted Brandt's cross into the path of Havertz, who fired in from close range. Home keeper Lukas Hradecky produced a fine save to deny 19-year-old Schalke midfielder Nassim Boujellab his first Bundesliga goal, but a dominant Bayer could easily have been out of sight by half-time.
Schalke coach Huub Stevens had insisted his side would "give everything" despite already being safe, and the Dutchman appeared to give his players a gentle reminder of that promise at half-time. The Royal Blues needed just two minutes to equalise after the restart, with Guido Burgstaller beating the offside trap and clipping a cool finish over Hradecky. Schalke could even have gone ahead when the VAR showed that Kevin Volland had caught McKennie in the face with an elbow inside the area, but Daniel Caligiuri saw his penalty saved by Hradecky. After Aranguiz and Wendell went close again for Leverkusen, Schalke were awarded a second spot-kick when Jonathan Tah brought down Breel Embolo, but this time it was chalked off by the VAR. Bayer huffed and puffed in the closing stages, but Schalke could have snuck all three points as Burgstaller's header clipped the crossbar. In the end the hosts had to settle for a draw which damages their hopes of a top-four finish.
- Leverkusen top scorer Havertz has now netted six goals in his last six Bundesliga outings, and 16 for the season.
- Only three players in Bundesliga history aged 20 or younger have grabbed more goals in a single campaign than 19-year-old Havertz: Klaus Fischer, Dieter Müller and Horst Köppel.
- With two goals in his last three Bundesliga outings, Burgstaller has doubled his tally for the season (4). The Austrian was on target 11 times last term as Schalke finished second.
- The Royal Blues were awarded their ninth penalty of the season, which is more than any other Bundesliga side. Caligiuri has taken six of them, scoring four and missing two.
- Hradecky saved his first spot-kick in Leverkusen colours.
- Schalke are unbeaten away from home since Stevens' return as interim coach (W2, D2).
Leverkusen: Hradecky – L. Bender (c) (Weiser 46'), Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Aranguiz, Baumgartlinger (Kohr 84'), Brandt – Havertz, Alario (Paulinho 76'), Volland
Unused subs: Özcan, Dragovic, Kiese Thelin, Jedvaj
Out: Bailey (thigh), Bellarabi (thigh), Pohjanpalo (ankle), Retsos (knock)
Coach: Peter Bosz
Schalke: Nübel – McKennie, Stambouli (c), Nastasic – Mascarell – Caligiuri, Rudy, Boujellab, Oczipka – Burgstaller (Teuchert 90'+4), Embolo (Matondo 80')
Unused subs: Langer, Fontein, Harit, Carls, Timotheou
Out: Bentaleb (not considered), Bruma (unknown), Fährmann (thigh), Konoplyanka (thigh), Mendyl (not considered), Sane (dead leg), Schöpf (knee), Uth (groin), Serdar (illness), Skrzybski (thigh)
Coach: Huub Stevens