Schalke full-back Daniel Caligiuri proved the difference against his former club Wolfsburg to give the Royal Blues a much-needed victory in Gelsenkirchen.
Schalke 2-1 Wolfsburg
Goals: 1-0 (Caligiuri pen. 8’), 1-1 Rexhbecaj (20’) 2-1 (Caligiuri 78’)
The home side surprisingly chose to start with Alexander Nübel in goal rather than club captain Ralf Fährmann, but the Germany U21 international justified his place with a sharp stop to keep out Admir Mehmedi’s header early on. Shortly afterwards William fouled Alessandro Schöpf inside the area, and Caligiuri stepped up to give Schalke the lead. Wolfsburg responded from the setback well, however, and they drew level through Elvis Rexhbecaj. A crossfield ball from Renato Steffen picked out Mehmedi on the left side, and when his effort came back off the post, 21-year-old Rexhbecaj reacted quickest to drill home the rebound. Nübel saved from Yannick Gerhardt and Maximilian Arnold as the visitors threatened to push on, but the sides went in level at half-time.
Schalke looked much stronger after the restart, and Mark Uth’s downward header was brilliantly kept out by Wolves keeper Koen Casteels following a storming run and cross from USA international Weston McKennie. The impressive McKennie fired wide before Wout Weghorst did likewise at the other end following a defensive error, but in the end it was to be Caligiuri’s day. The marauding right-back got his second goal of the night when the game looked to be heading for a draw. After being played in on the right after another burst from McKennie, he checked inside before smashing home left-footed to give Schalke a second win in succession.
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- Caligiuri scored his third and fourth goals of the season five days after his 31st birthday.
- The matchwinner was a Wolfsburg player from the summer of 2013 until he joined Schalke in January 2017.
- The Royal Blues suffered more home defeats during the first half of the season (five) than any other Bundesliga club. They opened their campaign with a 2-1 reverse to Wolfsburg.
- Rexhbecaj got his first Bundesliga goal in his 16th appearance in the top flight.
- Wolfsburg had been unbeaten in six matches before their trip to Gelsenkirchen, winning five.
- The Wolves had been enjoying their highest standing after 17 matches since sitting - and eventually finishing - second in 2014/15.
Schalke: Nübel – Caligiuri, Sane, Nastasic, Oczipka – Stambouli (c), Rudy, - Schöpf, McKennie (Serdar 90'+2), Skrzybski (Kutucu 90'+3) – Uth (Wright 90’)
Unused subs: Fährmann, Mendyl, Mascarell, Teuchert
Out: Di Santo (knee), Embolo (foot), Harit (hamstring), Burgstaller (Achilles), Bentaleb (thigh), Konoplyanka (illness)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Wolfsburg: Casteels (c) – William, Knoche, Brooks, Roussillon – Gerhardt (Malli 87’), Arnold, Rexhbecaj (Brekalo 72’) – Mehmedi, Weghorst, Steffen (Klaus 85’)
Unused subs: Pervan, Verhaegh, Uduokhai, Itter
Out: Azzaoui (knee), Camacho (ankle), Ginczek (ankle), Jung (fitness), Guilavogui (muscular)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia
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