FC Schalke 04 continued their upturn in fortunes with a comprehensive victory against 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the VELTINS Arena, where Nabil Bentaleb weighed in with his first Bundesliga brace.
FC Schalke 04 3-0 1. FSV Mainz 05
Both sides took time to settle following their respective UEFA Europa League exploits but it was Schalke who brought the contest to life midway through the half. Looking to catch Mainz goalkeeper Jonas Lössl out with a free-kick from the left, Johannes Geis was disappointed to see his teasing effort fisted over the crossbar. Undeterred, the hosts came again, and after retrieving possession from the 05ers in midfield, Leon Goretzka’s arcing cross from the right was chested down by Franco Di Santo for Bentaleb to smash an unstoppable shot past Lössl for 1-0.
The Royal Blues had won all ten of their previous encounters against Mainz before the winter break and were soon on course to extend that record after the restart. Pouncing on Alessandro Schöpf’s deflected cross from the right, the alert Di Santo rolled a pass back for Max Meyer, who applied an emphatic finish from close range. Bentaleb then registered his third goal in two games after a neat exchange of passes with Sead Kolasinac led to the Algerian firing low past the despairing Lössl.
Man of the Match
No Breel Embolo? No problem for Schalke 04, at least in this contest where midfielder Bentaleb lit up the VELTINS Arena with two goals and an impressive all-round performance. The Algeria international - who scored his first goal for Schalke in the Matchday 7 draw against FC Augsburg - struck an emphatic opener here and added a smart third as the hosts cruised in Gelsenkirchen.
Markus Weinzierl has not only steadied the ship following five opening losses, the Die Knappen coach has changed the team's course with a second win in three unbeaten Bundesliga games. Unwavering in their support throughout that early crisis, the fans who regularly fill the VELTINS Arena are now being rewarded for their loyalty.
- Schalke have won 12 of their 21 matches against Mainz.Mainz have failed to score against Schalke on ten occasions, more than against any other club.The Royal Blues are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, winning four.
Schalke: Fährmann - Höwedes (c), Naldo, Nastasic, Kolasinac (Baba 79') - Bentaleb, Geis (Stambouli 75') - Schöpf, Goretzka, M. Meyer - Di Santo (Huntelaar 81')
Coach: Markus Weinzierl
Mainz: Lössl - Donati, Bell (c), Balogun, Bussmann - S. Serdar, Gbamin (Frei 74') - Öztunali (Onisiwo 59'), Malli, Jairo (De Blasis 59') - Cordoba
Coach: Martin Schmidt