bundesliga

Schalke end 2018 on a high and leave Stuttgart struggling

Schalke edged away from the bottom three with a 3-1 win in Stuttgart, leaving their hosts spending the winter break in the relegation play-off berth.

Stuttgart 1-3 Schalke

Goals: 0-1 Skrzybski (10'), 0-2 Gomez (o.g. 70'), 1-2 Gonzalez (76'), 1-3 Kutucu (78')

Two sides who will be glad to see the back of 2018 were seeking to end the year on a high, but the difficulties that have plagued each of their first halves of the season were there to see on both sides. Stuttgart had the endeavour, but lacked the invention, while Schalke were ultimately more efficient as they took their first real chance in the tenth minute. Bastian Oczipka got to the goalline and pulled a ball back for Steven Skrzybski to drill in his third Bundesliga goal – on only his fifth appearance.

The hosts had only one option at the start of the second half and they almost levelled three minutes in when Nicolas Gonzalez was given a gift by Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, but he hit the post – for the third time this season – with the goal at his mercy. Weston McKennie was sent on to strengthen the Schalke midfield, and the USMNT international almost headed them two in front, only just missing the target. The Royal Blues did double their lead when Oczipka's corner skimmed Salif Sane's shoulder and was turned into his own goal unwittingly by Mario Gomez. Gonzalez reduced the arrears with his first Bundesliga goal, but Stuttgart's hope was short lived as substitute Ahmet Kutucu restored the guests' two-goal advantage almost immediately, sealing a victory which puts four points between the two sides and leaves Stuttgart spending the winter break inside the bottom three.

Steven Skrzybski (c.) celebrates after giving Schalke the lead in their 3-1 win over Stuttgart. - 2018 Getty Images

Match stats

  • Schalke extended their record of winning each game in which they scored first this season to five.
  • Schalke's opener in the tenth minute was their earliest goal this season.
  • Gonzalez opened his Bundesliga account with his 31st shot on goal; Kutucu, on the other hand, scored his first Bundesliga goal in only his second appearance.
  • Schalke scored a goal from a corner for the second game running, having failed to find the back of the net from a set-piece all season. Last term, they scored 26 goals from dead balls – a league high.

Line-ups

Stuttgart: Zieler – Beck (Donis 80'), Baumgartl, Kempf, Insua – Gentner (c), Ascacibar, Didavi (Akolo 58') – Thommy (Castro 68'), Gomez, Gonzalez
Unused Subs: Grahl, Aidonis, Sosa, Sarpe
Out: Badstuber (calf), Pavard (thigh), Aogo (calf), Maffeo (ankle)
Coach: Markus Weinzierl

Schalke: Fährmann (c) – Stambouli, Sane, Nastasic – Caligiuri (Wright 87'), Schöpf, Oczipka – Serdar (McKennie 59'), Bentaleb – Skrzybski, Konoplyanka (Kutucu 73')
Unused subs: Nübel, Rudy, Riether, Goller
Out: Burgstaller (Achilles), Embolo (foot), Mendyl (ankle), Uth (hamstring), Harit (muscle tear), Di Santo (fitness)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco