Schalke off the bottom after beating Hertha Berlin in relegation six-pointer
Tim Skarke and Marius Bülter emerged as Schalke's heroes in the Matchday 28 opener against fellow relegation strugglers Hertha Berlin, both heavily involved in a vital 5-2 victory.
Schalke 5-2 Hertha
Goals: 1-0 Skarke (3'), 2-0 Bülter 14' (assist: Skarke), 2-1 Jovetic (45'+3), 3-1 Terodde 48' (assist: Karaman), 4-1 Bülter 78' (assist: Latza), 4-2 Richter 84' (assist: Ngankam), 5-2 Kaminski (90'+2)
Hertha went into the game one point and one rung above bottom club Schalke, but the home side began determined to change all that. And they enjoyed the perfect start when Skarke curled an eye-catching shot into the top corner from the edge of the box after just three minutes. To their credit, Hertha were unfazed and stuck to their game plan only to be stunned by another setback shortly afterwards. Skarke was involved again as he scurried down the right wing and floated a cross into the middle for the unmarked Bülter to head in from close range. Stevan Jovetic very nearly reduced the deficit with a shot that seemed destined for the bottom corner, but Ralf Fährmann got down well to tip it on to the post. The Hertha forward did give his side a lifeline on the stroke of half-time after Schalke were unable to clear Dodi Lukebakio's cross, the 33-year-old rifling in from 18 yards.
Schalke refused to allow their hard work to be undone in the second half, however, and once again struck soon after kick-off. This time substitute Kenan Karaman – on for the inured Skarke – broke forward on the counter down the right before cutting the ball back for Simon Terodde to prod in from close range. Hertha tried to find another foothold in the game, with Jessic Ngankam close to connecting with Marco Richter's right-wing cross, but Schalke remained compact at the back and gave them no room to manoeuvre. Bülter sealed the win for Schalke in the closing stages when he raced on to Danny Latza's pass behind the visiting defence and scooped it over the onrushing Oliver Christensen for his second of the game. Richter reduced the deficit again late on, tapping in from Ngankam's cross, but Schalke had the final say when Marcin Kaminski curled in a stunning free-kick to add gloss to the scoreline as Hertha replaced Schalke at the foot of the table.
- Skarke's goal was his first in the Bundesliga, coming in his ninth top-flight outing.
- His third-minute strike was the earliest Schalke have scored all season.
- The 26-year-old became the club's 278th scorer in the Bundesliga – more than any other team.
- Bülter netted his eighth and ninth league goals of 2022/23, more than any other Schalke player.
- His strike was the 11th time Hertha have conceded from a header this season.
- All three of Jovetic's goals this season have come away from home.
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Schalke: Fährmann (Schwolow 36') - Brunner (Uronen 71'), Kaminski, Jenz, Matriciani - Kral, Latza (c) - Skarke (Karaman 46'), Drexler (Krauß 65'), Bülter - Terodde
Unused subs: Ouwejan, Greiml, Zalazar, Tauer, Frey
Out: Heekeren (cruciate ligament), Kozuki (ankle), Polter (knee), van den Berg (ankle), Yoshida (muscular)
Coach: Thomas Reis
Hertha: Christensen - Uremovic, Kempf, Dardai (Ngankam 55') - Richter, Tousart, Cigerci (Serdar 26'), Boateng (Kanga 62'), Plattenhardt (c) - Lukebakio, Jovetic
Unused subs: Ernst, Rogel, Kenny, Mittelstädt, Sunjic, Niederlechner
Out: Boetius (shoulder), Ejuke (knee), Jarstein (not considered), Nsona (knee)
Coach: Sandro Schwarz
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