Haji Wright scored his first Bundesliga goal but the USA prospect's strike could not prevent Schalke going down at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
Goals: 0-1 Dragovic (27'), 0-2 Alario (35'), 1-2 Wright (45')
Leverkusen had not travelled well prior to arriving in Gelsenkirchen, and the visitors looked queasy during the opening 20 minutes before sparking into life. A Wendell shot well fielded by Ralf Fährmann was quickly followed by Dominik Kohr seizing onto a Benjamin Stambouli mistake only to fire narrowly wide. Aleksandar Dragovic was much more accurate though when Leon Bailey's shot ricocheted off a post and invitingly into his path to open the scoring. Lucas Alario then deftly turned Matija Nastasic to fire home a second and leave Schalke on the ropes.
The Veltins-Arena faithful were given some pre-Christmas cheer in the dying embers of the first half when Wright instinctively stuck out a foot to divert USA international teammate Weston McKennie's header past Lukas Hradecky. Amine Harit might have levelled had the Leverkusen defence not scrambled a dangerous cross clear from under his feet, while a Nastasic header also might have done the job but for it to fly directly into Hradecky's arms. Substitutes Steven Skrzybski and Yevhen Konoplyanka both could have — the latter probably should have — equalised, while Daniel Caligiuri flashed a vicious effort too close for Hradecky's comfort. A ninth loss of the season, though, leaves the 2017/18 runners-up still in trouble.
- Schalke have lost more home games in the first half of the season (five) than they have won (three).
- In the last eight matches between these two, the home team has failed to win. There have been six away victories and two draws since Leverkusen managed a home win in October 2014.
- In their Bundesliga history, Leverkusen have only won more games against Stuttgart (35) than they have against Schalke (31).
- This was Leverkusen's first win over Schalke in four league matches. They had lost two of the previous three.
- The game saw two Americans — Schalke's McKennie and Wright — line up for the same Bundesliga side for the first time since Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams featured for Hoffenheim at Schalke on 30 March, 2013.
Schalke: Fährmann (c) – Stambouli, Sane, Nastasic – Caligiuri, McKennie, Bentaleb (Serdar 54'), Oczipka – Schöpf (Konoplyanka 71'), Harit – Wright (Skrzybski 54')
Unused subs: Nübel, Mascarell, Kutucu, Naldo
Out: Embolo (foot), Mendyl (ankle), Uth (hamstring), Burgstaller (Achilles), Di Santo (knee)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Leverkusen: Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, Dragovic (Jedvaj 60'), Wendell – Kohr, Baumgartlinger (c) – Bellarabi (S. Bender 89'), Havertz, Bailey – Alario (Volland 70')
Unused subs: Özcan, Brandt, Kiese Thelin, Aranguiz
Out: Pohjanpalo (ankle), Retsos (thigh), L. Bender (thigh)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich