Gelsenkirchen - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar grabbed his first Bundesliga hat-trick since August 2011 as FC Schalke 04 cruised to an emphatic 4-1 win over Hamburger SV at the Veltins Arena on Sunday.
HSV's elation cut short
Marcell Jansen headed the visitors in front, but the Royal Blues roared back, with Huntelaar teeing up Michel Bastos for the equaliser and then adding three poacher's goals of his own to ensure Schalke stay fourth in the table and retain pole position in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification.
Hamburg trailed the home side by just two points going into the game, and knowing a win would see them leap-frog their opponents into fourth, they came racing out of the blocks. The encounter was barely four minutes old when Jansen leapt highest to nod in a simple opener from the first corner of the day.
The hosts had a potent weapon in their arsenal, however, and it didn’t take long for Huntelaar to haul his side back into contention. His well-weighted pass released Bastos to place an equaliser into the corner, before he then scored his first goal since Matchday 25, taking up a predictably predatory position to tap in Julian Draxler’s cross.
The scoreline had changed just as quickly as the permutations of the league table. From conceding an early goal, the hosts were now in the ascendancy, with Huntelaar on the end of all their attacking moves. The 29-year-old had a shot blocked, what would have been a second-tap in taken off his toes by Heiko Westermann and then a chipped effort deflected behind by Rene Adler.
Thorsten Fink’s men were fortunate to still be within touching distance of the hosts as the second period kicked off, but Schalke were simply the hungrier side in all departments and continued to create chances at will. After Raffael and Bastos both tested Adler with pot-shots, the Royal Blues added a third just before the hour-mark when the former’s tenacity ended with Huntelaar glancing in a header.
HSV were being overrun by this point as Schalke exposed their defensive frailties again and again, with Huntelaar putting the game to bed with more than twenty minutes still to play. Again the home side’s desire was decisive, as Draxler powered to the byline and forced in a cross that Adler could only parry into the path of Huntelaar, who glanced home to complete his hat-trick.
The Royal Blues seemed to get stronger as the game progressed, and Draxler and substitute Teemu Pukki might have added to the scoreline. Hamburg, by contrast, had long looked beaten and greeted the final whistle with relief. They can still finish in the Champions League places but remain eighth in the standings, with a five-point deficit to make up on Sunday's victors and just three games to play.
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