FC Ingolstadt 04 remain firmly on course for another season of Bundesliga football after getting the better of top-four hopefuls FC Schalke 04.
Schalke made a bright start and should arguably have taken the lead through Franco Di Santo, but the Argentine striker was unable to direct Leroy Sane's probing right-wing cross on target. It was all downhill for the Royal Blues from thereon in as Moritz Hartmann nonchalantly stroked in from the penalty spot following a foul on Dario Lezcano by Junior Caicara. Lukas Hinterseer capped a brilliantly flowing move with a fine low finish on the stoke of half-time to add to Schalke's woes.
Schalke had been the better side until Hartmann's opener, but the visitors rarely threatened in the second half. Not even the introduction of Morocco international Younes Belhanda could stem the tide as Ingolstadt took a 3-0 lead for the first time since gaining promotion to Germany's top flight. There was an element of luck involved as Roman Neustädter's attempted clearance was directed back into the danger zone by Danny da Costa, with Lezcano on hand to put the result beyond any doubt.
Man of the match
What a week it has been for Lezcano. After grabbing a brace against Ecuador and opening the scoring against Brazil during the international break, the Paraguay international delivered another vibrant display. The 25-year-old was a bundle of energy at the Audi Sportpark, winning the penalty that yielded the decisive opening goal, expertly running the lines for the duration and getting on the scoresheet for good measure.
With 36 points on the board after 28 matches and 40 typically seen as the holy grail, promoted Ingolstadt are almost home and hosed. They are a sizeable nine points clear of the relegation zone in any case.
- Ingolstadt had four shots on goal and scored three goals.
- Hinterseer has scored five goals in his last five Bundesliga outings.
- Six of Hartmann's eight Bundesliga goals this season have been penalties.
Ingolstadt: Özcan - da Costa, Bregerie, M. Matip (c), Ro. Bauer - Roger - P. Groß, Christiansen - Hinterseer (Multhaup 86'), Lezcano (Cohen 79'), Hartmann (Leckie 63')
Schalke: Fährmann (c), Junior Caicara, J. Matip, Neustädter, Aogo - Geis, Goretzka (Belhanda 62') - Sane, Meyer - di Santo (Huntelaar (73'), Choupo-Moting (Schöpf 62')