Fürth - FC Schalke 04 moved up to third in the table thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win away at Greuther Fürth in front of former US Secretary of State and Fürth native Henry Kissinger.
Schalke on top
After his side had missed a hatful of chances, Julian Draxler finally broke deadlock shortly after half-time with a thunderous shot from distance, before Lewis Holtby settled the result late on, tucking home from substitute Jefferson Farfan's cross.
The home side, embarking on their first-ever season in Germany's top flight, were the clear underdogs going into the game and it showed. Mike Büskens' charges afforded their more experienced guests far too much respect in the opening exchanges. Holtby was linking up well with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jermaine Jones stung the palms of home keeper Max Grün with a drive from distance just two minutes into the game, while Draxler inexplicably headed over from six yards minutes later.
They may have looked slightly brittle defensively, but Mike Büskens team, winners away in Mainz in their last league outing, did force themselves back into the game and keep Lars Unnerstall on his toes in the Schalke goal. Sercan Sararer went close with an effort from distance, moments after his strike partner Edu, himself on loan from Schalke, had seen a deflected drive loop over the crossbar following a corner that the Schalke defence had only half-cleared.
Draxler's dipping drive
There was plenty of competitive edge on display in the game as both sides sought to deny the other space and time on the ball. Yet it was Schalke that always looked the more likely to find the breakthrough, and they would have done so but for some lamentable finishing that kept the scores level at the break. Unusually it was Huntelaar, usually so prolific, that was the guilty party as he first skied over with the goal at his mercy and then couldn't beat Grün from a tight angle after springing the offside trap with a well-timed run.
The first half clearly belonged to the away side, who might have found themselves two or three goals up before the interval. As it turned out, it was Julian Draxler that set the record straight minutes after the restart. Cutting in from the left wing, the 18-year-old ignored his misfiring teammates and went for goal, sending a superb drive full of dip, swerve and bend under the crossbar and beyond Grün's dispairing dive.
Holtby puts result to bed
There were nevertheless moments of slackness in Schalke's play that will have irked coach Stevens. Edu was given far too much room in the penalty area when he collected a pass from Heinrich Schmidtgal and had an effort blocked, before only a poor touch by Edgar Prib prevented him from going clean through on Unnerstall.
Büskens, a UEFA Cup winner with Schalke in 1997, sent on another former Royal Blues' favourite in Gerald Asamoah in an attempt to steal an equaliser. The ex-Germany international's introduction made an immediate difference as Sararer twice went close, first with a mazy run and then with a deflected volley. Ultimately, however, a lack of end product was the home side's undoing, and their deflated players conceded a second late on as Holtby fired in at the back post to ensure the scoreline provided a somewhat fairer reflection of the game.
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