Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 must wait another week to guarantee a third-placed finish after falling to a 1-0 defeat at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Cagey start, Herrmann on target
Patrick Herrmann scored the only goal of the game with a precise first-half strike to ensure that Schalke remain just four points ahead of fifth-placed VfL Wolfsburg with two games to play, while the Foals have, to all intents and purposes, secured qualification for the UEFA Europa League, having opened up a six-point lead over eighth-placed FC Augsburg, as well as having a vastly superior goal difference.
The high stakes contributed to a sterile affair in the opening quarter of an hour, but the game opened up nicely on 15 minutes, as the hosts’ Ralf Fährmann was called into action to alertly deny Herrmann, either side of Marc-Andre ter Stegen saving well from Timo Hoogland and Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Gradually the home side began to up the pressure, with Draxler forcing another good stop from ter Stegen and Boateng driving an effort into the keeper’s arms. Jens Keller’s side had also enjoyed seven corners after 28 minutes, but still a final ball was lacking, with lone striker Adam Szalai largely uninvolved. It was somewhat against the run of the play, then, that the Foals went in front when Herrmann lashed in from Raffael’s cross after Joel Matip lost possession.
The home support were suddenly frustrated with their side looking unable to muster much of a response, and indeed it was Gladbach that might have scored the next goal, with Matip making up for his earlier error by deflecting a Herrmann shot wide following great work from Max Kruse just before the half-time whistle.
Keller resisted the urge to introduce Klaas-Jan Huntelaar - on the bench for the first time in a league game since March 2011 - for the start of the second period, but again it was Favre’s team that carried the greater threat, with Herrmann and Juan Arango firing in decent efforts and Kruse rounding the keeper only to carelessly shoot wide with the goal unguarded.
Gladbach see it home
Schalke went with two up front when Huntelaar was finally introduced on 72 minutes, but their play remained pedestrian and easy for the deep-lying Foals defend against. The Dutchman miscued when released by delightful Draxler pass, before then crossing for Szalai to poke an effort against the outside of the post.
In the final few minutes the home side threw everything forward in search of an equaliser, including the keeper Fährmann, but a goal proved beyond them, with Draxler firing agonisingly over from an angle with the last kick of the game.
Line-ups and statistics
Schalke keeper Ralf Fährmann features in our Top 5 Saves video from Matchday 32, courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: