Gelsenkirchen – A win with a goal - Benedikt Höwedes' comeback was the stuff of legends. The Schalke captain was not as pleased as one might expect when he spoke to reporters after his side's last-gasp 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin, however.
bundesliga.com listened in to what the German international had to say…
Question: Benedikt Höwedes, it was a last-minute win which saw an outpouring of emotions – do you like winning this way?
Benedikt Höwedes: No, but it certainly is a great feeling. When you get the decisive winning goal in the 90th minute, the whole Arena goes crazy, but the fans had been behind us resolutely even before this goal, even when we were a bit careless at times with an extra man. We've got to ask ourselves what went wrong there and deal with it better in future. But what mattered was that we put a lot into the last ten minutes and built up a head of steam, forcing this winning goal, even if perhaps it was not thoroughly deserved.
Question: You celebrated your comeback with a goal – are you now challenging your fellow centre-back Joel Matip in the goalscoring stakes?
Höwedes: Joel's incredibly dangerous in the air, and he's got the height for it. Of course I'm also strong in the air and fortunately I was able to use this strength to give us the lead.
Question: Did you expect to start this game?
Höwedes: The coach and I had been taking things step by step after my injury because it's quite easy to rush things after a serious injury, which is why I was only getting brief appearances, like against Asteras. That fed me back into it, but I was never able to set a precise date for this comeback. I felt good this week, though, and the coach had a good feeling too, so it felt right. I just need to get back into a rhythm now, but I'll soon get that back by playing games.
Question: Not only did you score the opener, you also played a hand in their equaliser – what went wrong there?
Höwedes: We were all too passive. We let Berlin play the ball around as they liked. It just goes to show how dangerous it is to stand a yard away from your opponent. We didn't only get it wrong for their goal either. We were able to put things right today, but we can't let it happen all that often.
Question: Schalke were particularly dangerous from set pieces. Was it the plan to use this as your main weapon against Hertha after struggling for ideas against Köln recently?
Höwedes: It's never easy against deep-lying teams like Köln or Hertha. They do make your life difficult. We had other ideas, but they didn't always come off and this created us more problems than we had hoped for. Above all, we did too little when we were 11 against ten. We were too careless and let them counter.
Question: Do you have an explanation for that?
Höwedes: We just didn't want to go the extra yard and we thought we'd get by anyway. But things don't work like that! I don't want to sound too negative, but you do need to find a few warning words from time to time. Still, we've won and we've celebrated as a team. You can see how we're growing together, when the coach and the whole bench race onto the field to celebrate with us. You can see we're a strong unit.
Question: How important was this win also in view of the coming games against Gladbach, Dortmund and Bayern?
Höwedes: Well it's certainly not going to get any easier for us, which is why it's great to get some more self-confidence in the bank. Of course we've got some tough matches coming our way, but if we continue to do things right consistently, then we're also going to stand a better chance of holding our own in these matches, and who knows then what might happen.