Hoffenheim - Seldom has a Bundesliga encounter been so dominated by one team. Away at 1899 Hoffenheim on Matchday 10, FC Schalke 04 had 22 efforts on goal compared to Hoffenheim’s eight and enjoyed 65 percent possession, yet still came away from the Rhein-Neckar-Arena nursing a 3-2 defeat after substitute Sven Schipplock’s effort won it in injury time for the home side.
Stevens puts it plainly
The slip allowed league leaders FC Bayern Munich to open up a seven-point lead at the top, but it was the manner of the defeat that irked Royal Blues general manager Horst Heldt most, with the 42-year-old describing it as "completely and utterly unnecessary."
After Kevin Volland had put Hoffenheim in front, Schalke responded through Roman Neustädter’s first-half header. Roberto Firmino and Atsuto Uchida then both netted after the break, before Schipplock’s late strike gave Markus Babbel’s side an unexpected three points.
As in previous matches this season, such as away at Fortuna Düsseldorf and at home to Montpellier in the UEFA Champions League, Schalke failed to make their dominance count and suffered the consequences with more dropped points. "If you don’t take your chances and you allow the opposition back into the game by making mistakes, then you end up losing matches likes this," was the analysis offered by head coach Huub Stevens at full time.
Sights set on victory
The 58-year-old Dutchman’s frustration was echoed by his compatriot and star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The 29-year-old cut a disconsolate figure after the game, having failed to add to his three Bundesliga efforts in his tenth appearance in the league this season.
"Obviously you set your sights on a second goal when you make it 1-1 before half-time," the Netherlands international said. "But then you concede a penalty and the direction of the game changes. If we'd taken the lead, then things would have turned out differently."
Focused on Arsenal
For last season’s top goalscorer, drawing the game wasn't an option, much less losing it, after Japanese international Uchida's first-ever goal in the Bundesliga had levelled matters with eight minutes remaining. "We tried to win and we had chances to do so," he said.
Given the fact that neither Eintracht Frankfurt nor Borussia Dortmund, Schalke's closest contesters before Matchday 10, managed a win, only compounded a bitterly disappointing afternoon for the Royal Blues. However, with Tuesday's Champions League fixture against Arsenal coming up, Huntelaar sees no point in dwelling on what might have been."There's nothing we can take from this game into [the] Arsenal [match]. It will be a totally different game."
Tobias Schächter reporting from Hoffenheim