Naldo struck deep into injury time to rescue a 2-2 draw for Schalke at Eintracht Frankfurt, as the Royal Blues made it 11 games unbeaten in the Bundesliga.
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Schalke
Goals: 1-0 Jovic (1'), 2-0 Haller (65'), 2-1 Embolo (82'), 2-2 Naldo (90+5')
Frankfurt have a habit of finishing the calendar year on a high note, and they took the lead at the Commerzbank Arena with barely 60 seconds on the clock. Ante Rebic did well to find Mijat Gacinovic inside the area, and the Serbia midfielder snuck a wicked pass between the legs of international teammate Matija Nastasic for Luka Jovic - another compatriot - who poked past Ralf Fährmann from close range. The visitors responded well and quickly took control of proceedings, with returning duo Yevhen Konoplyanka and Alessandro Schöpf providing menace down the wings. Frankfurt had a couple of half-chances from corners, with Gacinovic and stand-in captain Kevin-Prince Boateng going close, but a dominant Schalke really ought to have equalised before the interval. Schöpf had their best opportunity, forcing a magnificent save from Lukas Hradecky on the stroke of half-time.
The game followed a similar pattern early in the second half, with Frankfurt demonstrating why they came into the weekend with the Bundesliga's second-best defensive record. Schalke continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession, but failed to create any meaningful scoring chances as they were frequently caught out by the hosts' offside trap. The Eagles doubled their advantage shortly after the hour mark after more excellent work from Gacinovic, who pounced on a poor pass from Benjamin Stambouli, ghosted past Max Meyer and slipped the ball between Naldo's legs for substitute Sebastien Haller, who grabbed his sixth of the season with a cute backheel. Substitute Breel Embolo set up a frantic finish by turning in Guido Burgstaller's cross, though it looked like Frankfurt would hold on after Hradecky blocked a vicious strike from Daniel Caligiuri. Nothing doing - Naldo swept in with the last kick of the game to extend Schalke's unbeaten run to 11 matches.
Man of the Match
After scoring the winning goal at Hamburg in midweek, Gacinovic had another superb afternoon for Frankfurt, demonstrating his technical wizardry with no fewer than three nutmegs - two of them to set up Jovic and Haller for their goals. With the Serbia international on this kind of form, the Eagles could well find themselves involved in the battle for Europe after the winter break, even if they were denied victory by Naldo's late strike on Saturday.
- After striking late in the incredible 4-4 Revierderby against Borussia Dortmund, Naldo once again rescued a point for Schalke with an injury-time goal. He is now up to three for the season, more than any other defender. Benfica loanee Jovic grabbed his second goal of the season for Frankfurt just a minute into his second Bundesliga start. The 19-year-old Serb was also on target off the bench in a 2-1 loss to Augsburg on Matchday 4.Embolo scored his first goal since returning from a leg break last season. The Switzerland international was last on target with a brace against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 6 last term (4-0).Schöpf made his first Bundesliga start since suffering a cruciate ligament injury against Bayer Leverkusen at the end of April.Frankfurt have conceded just 18 goals in 17 Bundesliga games this season, and have the second best defensive record after leaders Bayern Munich (11).Frankfurt have not lost the final Bundesliga game of a calendar year for eight seasons.
Frankfurt: Hradecky - Salcedo, Russ, Falette - Wolf, Boateng (c), Fernandes, Gacinovic, Willems (Chandler 42') - Jovic (Barkok 82'), Rebic (Haller 50')
Unused subs: Zimmermann, Stendera, da Costa, Hrgota
Absentees: Ordonez, Regäsel (both unspecified), De Guzman (shoulder), Fabian (neck), Mascarell (match fitness), Meier (knee), Hasebe (light training), Abraham (bruising)
Coach: Niko Kovac
Schalke: Fährmann (c) - Stambouli, Naldo, Nastasic - Caligiuri, Schöpf (McKennie 81'), Meyer, Oczipka - Harit (Di Santo 56'), Burgstaller, Konoplyanka (Embolo 68')
Unused subs: Nübel, Reese, Kehrer, Riether
Absentees: Bentaleb (pelvis), Goretzka (tibia), Insua (ribs)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Watch: Naldo reflects on the season so far after his last-gasp equaliser in Frankfurt