Schalke climbed back into the top four with a 2-0 victory over fellow European aspirants Bayer Leverkusen, who played over half the match with ten men.
Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Schalke
Goals: 0-1 Burgstaller (11’), 0-2 Bentaleb (pen 89’)
Red card: Kohr (38’)
Aiming to leapfrog their hosts in the standings, the Royal Blues started confidently and took a deserved lead with just 11 minutes on the clock. Daniel Caligiuri delivered a raking crossfield ball for Guido Burgstaller, who skilfully evaded the challenge of Panagiotis Retsos before calmly sidefooting into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Leon Bailey sent a powerful effort inches wide of the target ten minutes later, before Bernd Leno pulled off a superb sprawling save to prevent Leon Goretzka’s header from nestling in the back of the net. Die Werkself’s afternoon went from bad to worse shortly before the interval, midfielder Dominik Kohr picking up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Breel Embolo.
The visitors set about pressing home their numerical advantage at the start of the second half, Naldo heading just wide of the far post within minutes of the restart. Leverkusen refused to let their heads drop, though, and went close to equalising when substitute Lucas Alario fired straight at Ralf Fährmann from a central position. Leno produced another outstanding stop to deny Embolo before Schalke finally put the game to bed in the final minute of normal time, Nabil Bentaleb sending Leno the wrong way from the penalty spot after Retsos had felled Embolo inside the area.
- This was only Schalke’s second victory in their last eight meetings with Leverkusen.There has now been at least a goal in each of the last 35 games between these two teams.Burgstaller ended a seven-game goal drought at the BayArena.Three of the former Nuremberg man’s five away goals in Germany’s top flight have come at Leverkusen.Burgstaller and Retsos will serve a one-match ban after picking up their fifth bookings of the season on Matchday 24.Ralf Fährmann was named in the Schalke starting XI for the 100th successive game.Charles Aranguiz made his 50th Bundesliga appearance at the BayArena.Stefan Kießling was included in the Leverkusen squad for the first time since Matchday 13.
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno (c) – Jedvaj (Kießling 71'), S. Bender, Retsos - Havertz, Kohr, Aranguiz, Wendell - Brandt (Bellarabi 71'), Volland (Alario 61'), Bailey
Unused subs: Özcan, Baumgartlinger, Frey, Henrichs
Absentees: L. Bender (hamstring), Tah (virus)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Schalke: Fährmann (c) - Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic - Caligiuri, Meyer (Stambouli 49'), Goretzka (Bentaleb 66'), Oczipka – Embolo, Burgstaller (Harit 49'), Di Santo
Unused subs: Nübel, Konoplyanka, Pjaca, Schöpf
Absentees: Baba (fitness), Insua (ribs), McKennie (knee)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Watch: Franco Di Santo on Schalke fighting "like lions" in Leverkusen