Gelsenkirchen - Joel Matip's first ever Bundesliga brace ended FC Schalke 04's four-game winless streak to hand them a 2-1 victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Farfan to the fore
Schalke deservedly went into the break in front following a one-sided first half, but Axel Bellinghausen levelled matters in a more evenly-contested second 45 minutes, before Matip decided the encounter late on.
Schalke started confidently following their convincing performance in a 1-1 draw in the UEFA Champions League at Galatasaray AS midweek and quickly settled into their rhythm at the Veltins-Arena. Peruvian winger Jefferson Farfan was very much at the heart of all their promising play in the first half hour, causing visiting left-back Johannes van den Bergh no end of problems.
Julian Draxler and Benedikt Höwedes sqaundered chances to get the better of Fabian Giefer, before Farfan seemed to have beaten Fortuna's young goalkeeper, only to see his deflected long-range effort bounce off the right post. Düsseldorf needed almost half an hour to give the hosts a first warning, when early substitute Dani Schahin, scorer of both goals in the sides' Matchday 6 draw, hammered a long-range effort just over.
Bellinghausen levels matters
Schalke remained in the driving seat, however, and their efforts finally came to fruition near the half-hour mark when Matip bundled the ball over the line from Jermaine Jones' header. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had been relatively quiet until then, and looked rusty in his first Bundesliga appearance after missing two matches due to an eye problem, miscontrolling Michel Bastos' pinpoint pass.
The hosts may have had the first scoring opportunity after the restart, when Sead Kolasinac found himself through on goal, but it was Düsseldorf who enjoyed the better of the second half. Parity was duly restored in the 56th minute when Bellinghausen poked in from close range, with the Royal Blues' defence looking anything but solid.
The game was anyone's for the taking now, with chances at both ends, although Schalke looked the more likely to score once they crossed the half-way line. Bastos was particularly sharp, the Brazilian winter signing twice going close from distance.
Schalke tried to up the pressure in the final stages and could have re-gained the lead, but neither substitute Raffael nor Huntelaar could convert. Matip showed them how it was done ten minutes from time, when he coolly slotted in from close range. Düsseldorf threw bodies forward in the dying minutes in search of an equaliser, but their late efforts came to no avail.
Line-ups and statistics