Schalke will have to wait to be assured mathematically of UEFA Champions League football next season after Nabil Bentaleb's early dismissal meant the Royal Blues could only draw 1-1 with Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Veltins Arena on Matchday 32.
Goals: 0-1 Raffael (32'), 1-1 Caligiuri (pen. 45+1')
Red card: Bentaleb (13')
As expected from two sides pushing for the European spots, Schalke and Gladbach went head to head at high speed in the opening stages – although too literally in the case of Bentaleb, whose early red card for pushing Lars Stindl in the face checked the early pace of proceedings. A man up, Gladbach almost went a goal up, with only a superb 21st-minute save from Ralf Fährmann denying Nico Elvedi from Raffael's clever pass. The Brazilian took matters into his own hands 11 minutes later, converting from close range after excellent work from Thorgan Hazard on the edge of the box. If anything has characterised Schalke this season under Domenico Tedesco, though, it has been a never-say-die attitude; true to form, Daniel Caligiuri brought the hosts level from the spot – against the run of play – in first-half injury time.
Back on level terms, Schalke relied exclusively on the counterattack in the second period. It almost paid instant dividends, but Leon Goretzka – put through one on one with Yann Sommer – lost his footing and Denis Zakaria tidied up. Thereafter the sides traded harmless shots – Caligiuri for Schalke, Hazard for Gladbach – until the visitors, sensing the Royal Blues' tiredness, began to pile on the pressure in the closing stages. Elvedi rattled the post with 15 minutes remaining, but the hosts, who were also forced into evasive action several times to deny the dangerous Hazard, valiantly held on for a point that takes them within touching distance of a return to the continental elite.
Man of the match
Although he spurned an opportunity to settle matters early in the second half, Goretzka was magnificent for Schalke in midfield. The Bayern-bound youngster was diligent in his defensive duties and a constant outlet when his side were breaking forward. Safe to say he's giving everything until the last.
- Schalke have scored at least once in each of their last 26 league games, the longest streak in the Bundesliga currently, and the Royal Blues' second-longest ever.
- This was Hecking's 50th Bundesliga game in charge of Gladbach; in his entire top-flight coaching career, he is yet to beat Schalke in 12 attempts.
- Raffael's only previous goals at the Veltins Arena had come as a Schalke player.
- For the first time ever, Schalke's penalty count for a season has been in double digits. The Royal Blues have converted all of them (five different players have taken).
Schalke: Fährmann (c) – Stambouli, Naldo, Kehrer – Caligiuri, Goretzka, Bentaleb, Schöpf – Harit (McKennie 64'), Konoplyanka (Teuchert 90') – Burgstaller (Di Santo 82')
Unused subs: Nübel, Insua, Pjaca, Oczipka
Absentees: Nastasic (knee), Embolo (thigh)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Gladbach: Sommer – Elvedi, Ginter, Vestergaard, Wendt – Hofmann (Traore 79'), Kramer, Zakaria (Strobl 60'), Hazard – Stindl (c) (Cuisance 38'), Raffael
Unused subs: Sippel, Drmic, Jantschke, Grifo
Absentees: Doucoure (thigh), Herrmann (ankle), Villalba (thigh), Johnson (fitness), Bobadilla (muscle tear)
Coach: Dieter Hecking