Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored his 17th goal of the season to cap a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory for Bayer 04 Leverkusen away to FC Schalke 04 on Saturday evening.
Schalke's tilt at European qualification had faltered in the weeks preceding this game but they began determined to make amends here, pushing forward relentlessly. They could have had an early lead when they were awarded a penalty after Leroy Sane was tripped, but Bernd Leno made a superb save to keep out Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's spot-kick. The hosts soon got the goal their pressure deserved, however, when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting powered forward from midfield and saw his shot deflected into the net.
The Royal Blues added a second before the break when Max Meyer teed up Sane to clinically finish from ten yards out. The match remained an open, free-flowing affair in the second half but this time it was Leverkusen who dominated and they turned the encounter on its head by scoring three times in six minutes. Julian Brandt continued his remarkable form with a well-taken finish, before Karim Bellarabi netted an audacious first-time volley from a tight angle. Chicharito completed the comeback moments later, drilling in from Brandt's pass to cement Leverkusen's place in third.
Man of the match
Brandt was once again outstanding here and led the Leverkusen fightback with a coolly-taken opening goal for the visitors. He also provided the assist for Chicharito to secure all three points for Roger Schmidt's side.
This was a sixth consecutive league win for Leverkusen, who are now five points clear of fourth-placed Hertha Berlin and appear to be on course for automatic UEFA Champions League qualification. For Schalke, however, that competition appears to be out of reach for another season.
- Leno saved a penalty for the first time in over two years; it was his ninth overall in the Bundesliga.
- Choupo-Moting netted his first goal in 2016.
- Brandt scored for a fifth consecutive Bundesliga match.
- The last time Schalke lost at home after leading 2-0 at half-time was a 4-2 defeat against Frankfurt in February 1976.
Schalke: Fährmann – Caicara, Matip, Neustädter (Höwedes 87'), Kolasinac – Geis (Goretzka 86'), Höjbjerg (Belhanda 68') – Sane, Meyer, Choupo-Moting – Huntelaar (c)
Coach: Andre Breitenreiter
Leverkusen: Leno – Jedvaj (Henrichs 32'), Tah, Toprak (Ramalho 65'), Wendell – Bender (c) (Kießling 46'), Aranguiz – Bellarabi, Kampl, Brandt – Chicharito
Coach: Roger Schmidt