Julian Draxler’s Gelsenkirchen homecoming was one to forget as his old flame FC Schalke 04 moved to within two points of the top three following a 3-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg.
Proceedings got off to fast and furious start, but while Schalke were getting the better of the attacking exchanges, it was the visitors who went closest to an opener with Ralf Fährmann denying Sebastian Jung, before Daniel Caligiuri smashed an effort off the crossbar.
However, the complexion of the game changed when Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was afforded time and space to drill an effort past Diego Benaglio from 25 yards. Things then went from bad to worse for the Wolves, when Johannes Geis bent a free-kick over the wall and into the bottom corner, giving the hosts a comfortable lead at the break.
Two goals to the good, Schalke sat back to continuously frustrate the Wolves, who demonstrated a greater sense of endeavour without producing an end product. The introduction of debutant Bruno Henrique briefly gave the visitors fresh impetus, but it was Schalke’s Alessandro Schöpf who added a third late on to put the result beyond doubt.
Man of the match
Full of running and provider of two assists, Junior Caicara put in an exemplary performance at right-back. The Brazilian’s discipline at the back kept the likes of Julian Draxler, Daniel Caligiuri and Max Kruse quiet, while his decision-making in the final third proved pivotal in the Royal Blues making light work of Wolfsburg.
While the Royal Blues’ top-four credentials received a much-needed shot in the arm, Wolfsburg continue to look a shadow of the side that clinched second place last season. Andre Breitenreiter’s critics will be quietened, while the pressure continues to grow on his Wolfsburg counterpart Dieter Hecking.
- Schalke’s opener against Wolfsburg was Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s 300th goal in his professional career.
- Johannes Geis set-pieces have led to seven goals in the 2015/16 campaign - a league best - all of which have been registered on home soil.
- Alessandro Schöpf scored his first ever Bundesliga goal in only his second top-flight appearance.
- VfL Wolfsburg are without a win in their last seven league outings (three draws, four losses).
Schalke: Fährmann - Caicara, Matip, Neustädter, Kolasinac – Geis (Kehrer 90’), Goretzka - Sane, Meyer (Belhanda 78’), Choupo-Moting (Schöpf 79’) - Huntelaar (c )
Wolfsburg: Benaglio (c ) - Jung, Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez – Guilavogui (Schäfer 85’) - Vieirinha, Kruse (Henrique 65’), Draxler, Caligiuri – Bendtner (Putaro 81’)