Gelsenkichen - FC Schalke 04 put their poor performance in the UEFA Champions League to rest with a resounding 3-0 win over struggling VfL Wolfsburg.
Peruvian winger Jefferson Farfan opened the scoring in a first-half bereft of chances, but after the break it became clear that there was only going to be one winner as Ibrahim Afellay and Roman Neustädter added further strikes to move Schalke into third place for the time being.
Both sides made changes to their starting line-ups, but despite Felix Magath handing a surprise Bundesliga start, Wolfsburg's lack of confidence in front of goal remained clear in the opening exchanges. Vierinha passed up an early sight of goal to tee up Diego, whose resulting shot was blocked, while Schalke struggled to punish the visitors' decision to play with a high backline.
The Royal Blues were short of a clinical pass in the final third, but Huub Stevens' decision to alter his side's approach to make more use of the space out wide paid dividends as Christian Fuchs' marauding run and cross invited Farfan to sneak in unmarked and meet the Austrian's cross with a diving header into the top corner.
Schalke grew in confidence considerably and had several chances to extend their lead before the break. Farfan wasted a near-identical opportunity to double his tally before releasing Holtby on the counter, but having taken the ball around the onrushing Diego Benaglio, the German midfielder couldn't find a team-mate with the goal at his mercy.
It was only the second time in the history of the Bundesliga that Wolfsburg hadn't recorded a shot on goal in the first half, but things went from bad to worse as the side came out with Magath's half-time team talk ringing in their ears. It took just 21 seconds for the Royal Blues to find the net as Holtby played in Afellay to slot into the bottom corner beyond Benaglio after timing his run to perfection.
Stroll in the park
Magath made two changes with 40 minutes left to play as entered the fray to partner the anonymous Lakic up front, but still Wolfsburg struggled to impose themselves. Holtby came within a studs-length of converting Afellay's drilled cross, but when the Wolves failed to clear the resulting corner Neustädter had all the time in the world to pick his spot and put Schalke three goals in front.
Schalke were carving the visitors apart and, though Vierinha stung the palms of Lars Unnerstall with Wolfsburg's first real effort, the hosts looked like the only team capable of adding to the scoreline. A fourth goal proved elusive, however, as Farfan had a shot denied by Benaglio's outstretched leg after Huntelaar had hit the post from a tight angle. Diego had Unnerstall at full stretch to claw out a late free-kick, but it was Schalke who left with smiles on their faces after putting in a convincing performance on home soil.
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