It was also a fine day for goalkeeper Oka Nikolov, who defied his 38 years to make fine saves from Michel Bastos, Marco Höger and Raffael as the Royal Blues stormed out of the blocks, and saved the result in the second half.
The Frankfurt custodian exceeded himself to prevent Bastos from giving the visitors the lead from the penalty spot after Stefan Aigner handled the ball inside the penalty area. Inspired by their goalkeeper’s defiance, Frankfurt started to take the initiative and went in front just before the break through Marco Russ' header.
Nikolov the hero
Schalke continued to push in the second half as they had in the first, but it was the same old story for the Royal Blues, who found Nikolov in fine fettle in the Frankfurt goal. Not to be outdone at the other end, Timo Hildebrand denied Inui as the hosts found chances on the break to double their advantage.
17-year-old Marc Stendera, making his debut in the starting XI, set up Karim Matmour for a header which missed the target, but a second goal was not required as the Eagles ended a run of four home games without a win to celebrate in front of their own fans for the first time in nearly three months, reducing the deficit on Schalke to just a single point.
Line-ups and statistics