Had it not been for Sead Kolasinac, FC Schalke 04 may have left the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK empty-handed after Saturday's Revierderby with Borussia Dortmund.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international's superb last-ditch tackle on Christian Pulisic in the 74th minute of Matchday 9's goalless draw, which extended the Royal Blues' unbeaten run in all competitions to seven matches. Speaking after the game, Kolasinac shared his thoughts on the derby, the atmosphere inside the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK and Schalke’s impressive performance…
Watch: Kolasinac team-mate Bentaleb pleased with Schalke result:
Question: Sead Kolasinac, what did you make of Saturday's derby?
Sead Kolasinac: This derby is a very special game - for the region, for the club, for the fans and for the players. You could see that over the 90 minutes. We tried to make an impact with every tackle. It's extremely important to do that. That’s how you get in the game and that is also what the fans want to see.
Question: You made it clear from the beginning that you were going to press forward...
Kolasinac: For this game, no player needs extra motivation. For me it was exactly the same. I am pleased that my determination could help the team further.
Question: Were you relieved to escape a booking after a heavy challenge in the first minute? You were eventually shown a yellow card in the 76th minute...
Kolasinac: Of course. If you get a yellow card so early in a match, you have to be careful. Luckily that wasn’t the case for me. I was also lucky that I played the ball most of the time, even if it was a little hard. That sort of thing also belongs to the derby. Aggressive tackles make the derby what it is, and we showed BVB that.
Question: How was it to play against Christian Pulisic? Did you study him beforehand?
Kolasinac: No, but I knew he was quick. That’s why I tried to disrupt him early on, so he couldn’t get into his stride; I think I managed that over 90 minutes.
'It was a huge moment against Pulisic. It was instinct'
Question: After 74 minutes, you let out an almighty roar of emotion after clearing a Pulisic effort off the line.
Kolasinac: I am the first line of defence. That's why I was so happy we kept a clean sheet in Dortmund. It was a huge moment against Pulisic. It was instinct. I thought the ball would come through and I was ready. Of course it's easy for emotions to spill out. You saw it in my reaction.
Question: You threw everything you had into that tackle. Were you worried about giving a penalty away?
Kolasinac: Had I made contact with Pulisic and not the ball and consequently given away a penalty I would now have to justify myself. That’s how it is. I was lucky that I touched the ball. What can you say - I was lucky!
Question: How important was this 0-0 draw for Schalke?
Kolasinac: We are now seven games unbeaten, five of those were victories. Of course, we know we messed up the start of the season and that we have to make up for that. That can only be done with 100 per cent effort. We’re working on that from game to game, to make things right again, and this result was a step in the right direction.