Gelsenkirchen - After two humiliating defeats, FC Schalke 04 got themselves back on track on Matchday 24 with an emphatic 4-0 win over 1899 Hoffenheim.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was the match-winner on Saturday thanks to a clinical hat-trick, although he could and probably should have scored a fourth after a tame first-half penalty miss. Fortunately for Schalke it didn't come back to haunt them, and as Huntelaar, explained to bundesliga.com after the game, those 6-1 and 5-1 humblings against Real Madrid CF and FC Bayern München have now been exorcised.
Question: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, a clear 4-0 win for Schalke with a hat-trick for yourself. That must mean a lot to you...
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: The whole team played well. it was a really good performance and it comes at the end of a difficult week for us. We could even have won more comfortably, but 4-0's a good result in the end.
Question: You might have added to the scoreline. What happened with the penalty that landed straight in the arms of Koen Casteels?
Huntelaar: It just didn't come off the way I'd planned. Usually, I take a long run-up and pick my corner. This time, I tried it differently. I certainly won't do it like this next time.
Question: You only took two steps - what exactly did you have in mind?
Huntelaar: When you take a long run-up, you reach the ball at high speed and it's more likely the goalkeeper will just guess one way. When you take just a few steps, he can't do that. That allows me to wait and see first what he does. I've trained it a lot - waiting to see which the goalkeeper goes. I also saw that he'd decided to go one way, but I shouldn't have just chipped the ball.
Question: Are you going to have to pay for that?
Huntelaar: I'm not sure about that because we still won easily, so it didn't matter too much. But If I have to buy everyone dinner because of it, then I'll just have to look for a nice restaurant.
Question: You still got to keep the match ball for your three goals...
Huntelaar: Our kitman Enrico grabbed the ball for me. I hope he gives it to me, you can never tell with Enrico!
Question: Let's get back to the situation you were in before this game. The team had promised to bounce back...
Huntelaar: There had been a lot said and written all week and we knew that we had to show something after two defeats. You can always lose to Bayern or Real, but not the way we did. We were annoyed with the way things went because it was just too easy for our opponents. We were desperate to show we were better than that, for the fans of course, but above all for ourselves.
Question: Did the coach give you any particular words of advice?
Huntelaar: We just had to continue doing what we'd done before those two games. We've been playing well in the second half of the season and we'd won four in a row, so we were in good form prior to conceding those 11 goals. We were far better again against Hoffenheim today and now we want to get a run going.
Question: What was it exactly that you did better compared to those defeats?
Huntelaar: We dominated them and played really well as a team. We attacked more and put our opponents under more pressure. We never let Hoffenheim into the game, but they're not Bayern or Real either. We were more defensive against Bayern and our priority in that game was to be solid at the back. That was different today.
Question: Was this win a decisive step towards the Champions League, considering your rivals all slipped up this weekend?
Huntelaar: It certainly hasn't decided anything because there are still too many games to go, but it was a first, important step towards that goal.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen